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Royal Tern

Thalasseus maximus

Globally, there are two subspecies of Royal Terns. On the west coast of Africa lives T. m. albididorsalis, and in North America we find T. m. maximus. These birds are seldom found away from oceanic coastlines.

In San Diego, the Royal Tern will often be found nesting in the Elegant Tern colonies of the Saltworks (South San Diego Bay NWR). Royal Terns will feed only their own young, and given the crowded locations where they share space with large colonies of Elegant Terns (and others), this is a remarkable skill. When returning from foraging expeditions, every hungry chick within sight does its best to convince the parent bird that it deserves to be fed.

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