Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay - Arctic Tern

Leslie van de Ligt

Sherwood Park, Canada

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This gorgeous Tern was seemingly intent on posing for me. He sat patiently while I adjusted the camera and took smalls steps in his direction until I was content to take my Shot. He is a beauty. Him posing with the rusty old anchor was a bonus. Unfortunately I had no fish to reward him with.

Open Hall, Newfoundland, Canada
Canon XSI Sigma 18-200 mm

Arctic Terns

Arctic Terns are medium-sized birds, with a length of 33-39 centimetres (13-15 in) and a wingspan of 76-85 cm (26-30 in). They are mainly grey and white plumaged, with a red beak (as long as the head, straight, with pronounced gonys) and feet, white forehead, a black nape (lower back of the neck) and crown (streaked white) , and white cheeks. The gray mantle (back) is 305 mm, and the scapulars (shoulder feathers) are fringed brown, some tipped white. The upper wing is gray with a white leading edge, and the collar is completely white, as is the rump. The deeply forked tail is whitish, with grey outer webs. The hindcrown to the ear-coverts is back.

The Arctic Tern is K-selected, caring for and aggressively defending a small number of young. Parents feed them fish for a considerable time, and help them fly south to winter.

Arctic Terns are long-lived birds, with many reaching twenty years of age. They eat mainly fish and small marine invertebrates (= animals without internal skeleton). The species is abundant, with an estimated one million individuals. While the trend in the number of individuals in the species as a whole is not known, exploitation in the past has reduced this bird’s numbers in the southern reaches of its range.

The Arctic Tern is famous for its migration; it flies from its Arctic breeding grounds to the Antarctic and back again each year. This 19,000 km (12,000 mi) journey ensures that this bird sees two summers per year and more daylight than any other creature on the planet. The average Arctic Tern in its life will travel a distance equal to going to the moon and back.4 One example of this bird’s remarkable long-distance flying abilities involves an Arctic Tern ringed as an unfledged chick on the Farne Islands, Northumberland, UK in summer 1982, which reached Melbourne, Australia in October 1982, a sea journey of over 22,000 km (14,000 mi) in just three months from fledging. Another example is that of a chick ringed in Labrador on 23 July 1928. It was found in South Africa four months later.

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Artwork Comments

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