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Gull-Billed Tern

Gelochelidon nilotica

Even though the Gull-Billed Tern prefers to remain close to the oceanic coasts of North and South America, it is primarily a terrestrial feeder, often eating insects, crabs and lizards. A recent breeder in San Diego, its residence and breeding activity is closely studied. Its presence here is a mixed blessing; it sometimes preys on the chicks of the endangered California Least Tern and Western Snowy Plover.

There are six recognised subspecies of these birds. In Europe, North Africa and the middle-east lives G. n. nilotica. In eastern Asia is found G. n. affinisG. n. macrotarsa makes its home in Australia. G. n. aranea lives in the eastern USA and south to the Caribbean. G. n. gronvoldi is found in Argentina. The birds found in Southern California belong to the subspecies G. n. vanrossemi.

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