Living Bird Magazine
Royal TernThalasseus maximus
- ORDER: Charadriiformes
- FAMILY: Laridae
A large, orange-billed tern, the Royal Tern is found only along ocean beaches.More ID Info
- Charrán Real (Spanish)
- Sterne royale (French)
- Cool Facts
- The Royal Tern makes its nest scrape on the ground on low-lying islands. The pair defecates directly on the nest rim, perhaps to reinforce the nest against flooding. After a few weeks, the nest rim hardens.
- The oldest recorded Royal tern was at least 30 years, 6 months old when it was found in Belize in 2013. It had been banded in North Carolina in 1983.
- Young Royal Terns leave the nest scrape within one day after hatching and congregate together in a group known as a creche. Eventually all of the chicks in a colony come to the creche, which can have thousands of chicks ranging in age from two to 35 days old. A pair of Royal Terns will feed only their own chick, and manage to find it in the crowd, probably by recognizing its call.