Common Tern, Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, New Jersey: in album birds
|Jul 23rd, 2012, by Alex Zorach|
This photo shows a common tern, Sterna hirundo, perched on a rock at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, at the northernmost end of Long Beach Island, New Jersey. I also took a photo of this same bird in flight.
I find terns very tricky to identify. This tern was much smaller in size than nearby herring gulls, which narrows it to the four species Common Tern, Forster's Tern, Arctic Tern, and Roseate Tern. At this site, Common Tern is quite common, and Forster's Tern was also present but less often and in much smaller numbers. This difference reflects the fact that common tern is more likely to be found along the ocean, and this site was on the ocean.
This bird shows extensive dark on the tips of the wings, and a dark red bill with dark tip. Forster's tern has a more orangeish bill. The back of this bird is also relatively dark, although this is hard to see in the lighting. Visually, a nearby Forster's tern looked much paler.
You can read more about ID-ing this tern on the Common tern ID page on Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds website.