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tern in flight cape may nj (1 Viewer)

tom baxter

Well-known member
Can anyone tell what species of tern this is? I think it looks like a common tern, but I am wondering if it could be a sandwich tern because the call it made was not one I am used to hearing from common terns. It sounded more like a sandwich tern than a common, but they do make some strange calls at this time of year.


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Well-known member
Common Tern for me. Bill looks too thin and tail too long for Sandwich, and head pattern doesn't look right for Sandwich - at this time of year there is very little black left around the eye.

Simon Wates

Well-known member
I'm not that confident but the bird's structure hit me straight away as Sandwich. Its a tricky image (few replies!) but the tail looks ok in length and colour (grey) for a young Sandwich to me and the calls you hear could be this too - as 1st years call a lot with a higher pitched grating call, piercing and loud - often still harrasing adults for food on migration and wintering grounds. I thought the wings looked too long and narrow proportionately to the body for Common and I would have expected the head pattern to reach lower behind the eye. I'm still doubting though ;)

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