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Caspian Tern

Hydroprogne caspia

The Caspian Tern is considered the world’s largest tern. Their raspy croaking voice could pass for a sound effect of a Sci-Fi Pterodactyl. These birds have territories on five continents. They take their common name from the Caspian Sea, a region where the Eurasian population spends their summers.

In North American, most of these birds breed from the Great Lakes in the east, to the sub-arctic prairies of Canada, but on the west coast there are breeding colonies along the lower Columbia River, around the San Francisco Bay and at several Southern California locations, including South San Diego Bay, where I’ve had the privilege to accompany biologists on their surveys.

A walk through a Caspian Tern nesting colony can be hazardous. These birds will attack from behind and wing-whip intruders, sometimes resulting in blood spills.

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