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Merlin Bird ID

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    Arctic Tern Life History


    Habitat ShorelinesBreeds in open tundra, boreal forest, or on rocky islands and beaches. Migrates far off shore. Winters on edge of pack ice.Back to top


    Food FishSmall fish, crustaceans, and insects.Back to top


    Nest Placement

    Nest Ground

    Nest Description

    Scrape in gravel or grass, or platform of vegetation or debris. Placed on ground in open.

    Nesting Facts
    Clutch Size:1-3 eggs
    Egg Description:Olive to buff, marked with numerous small spots and blotches of dark brown, often concentrated around the larger end.
    Condition at Hatching:Downy, eyes open, able to walk but stays in nest.
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    Behavior Aerial Dive (water)Plunges into water from flight; may hover briefly before plunging. Occasionally catches flying insects.Back to top


    Conservation Low ConcernData on populations is limited, with no estimates available for most of its breeding range. Hunting for millinery trade caused declines of Atlantic populations in late 19th century. Southernmost populations declining and listed as of special concern. They are not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List.Back to top


    Hatch, Jeremy J. 2002. Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

    Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2015.2. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2015.

    North American Bird Conservation Initiative. 2014. The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

    Sibley, David Allen. 2014. The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A Knopf, New York.

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