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Thread: More on Bainbridge Island, WA tern

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2011

    Default More on Bainbridge Island, WA tern

    HI ALL:
    Last night I got this e-mail from Brad Waggoner who found and
    photographed the tern from Bainbridge Island, WA:

    Here is the problem as I see it from spending 20 minutes + with this
    bird at a fairly close distance. If someone can definitively age this
    thing as a juvenile, and then somehow explain all the seemingly
    contradictory marks given their insistence that it is a juvenile, than I
    guess would be somewhat reluctantly willing to accept this bird as a
    juvenile Common Tern. But here is one in flight taken in

    I certainly don't see anything like that in the flight shots of my tern.

    I went away from Murden Cove with almost total confidence that I was
    dealing with a 1st summer bird (not juv.). It lacked any of any sort of
    patterning to wings in flight, primaries appeared uniformly gray like
    mantle and coverts and scaps lacked of any sign of brown or white
    edgings to make me think it was a juvenile. Then, to top it off, it had
    a roundy head, small bill, and short dumpy legs and these things were
    noted in direct comparison to nearby Common Terns. My gut reaction was
    that it was a first-summer Arctic Tern, but I wanted to research it upon
    coming home. I still think this is an Arctic Tern.

    I also have looked at some pics provided from Steve Mlodinow of 1st year
    Common Terns. I can't make the Murden Cove Tern fit for any of the wing
    patterning and of course the bills all look "biggish", heads look long
    and sloped. I would be happy to pass any along if so desired.

    Here is just one more shot of the Murden Cove Tern that might help with
    eliminating juvenile bird. And note how the coloration of primaries
    matches that of coverts and rest of wing. I'm guessing it would be
    difficult to place this as a trait of a Common Tern - no matter what age.

    Brad {Waggoner}

    I've added the latest photo of the tern to the top of this page at my blog

    Any comments?

    Ian Paulsen

  2. #2
    Senior Member darrenjhughes's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008


    Sorry Common Tern!!!

  3. #3
    Senior Member darrenjhughes's Avatar
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    Oct 2008


    Totally the wrong end of the stick looked at the wrong photos You could be right images a bit poor though

  4. #4
    Senior Member forktail's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007


    There's only three photos and no more information, the pics are whited-out a bit and not very sharp so it's difficult to read too much into them but the legs and bill are certainly orangey-red and not black (as on a first-summer), and the trailing edge of the primaries appears dull and diffuse, amongst other things, making the bird much more likely a Common Tern.

    OBC John Peel Awesomeness
    The little things they make me so happy, all I want to do is live by the sea...

  5. #5
    Senior Member JanJ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008


    Peter has a good explanation I think to why itīs a juvenile (and not 1st summer) Common Tern here:


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