Royal Tern colonies are often in isolated locations. Dredge spoil islands have become vital to the survival and expansion of the species in the United States. The Royal Tern forages close inshore, often in the breaking-wave surf zone, at inlets and on back bays. However, in Virginia and North Carolina, birds in breeding plumage have occasionally been observed foraging up to 65 km from breeding colonies. Royal Terns require shallow saltwater required for foraging, usually less than 10-20 m deep. They rarely use freshwater for feeding.
Royal Tern nesting occurs on low lying barrier islands located at or near an oceanic inlet which are free of predators, have little accessibility, good visibility of surroundings, and nearby shallow areas for feeding. Nests substrates may include oyster shellbanks, sand, or silt covered gravel and nests are located in open areas.
For more information on Royal Terns, including identifcation information, visit their page on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
- Buckley, P. A. and F. G. Buckley. 2002. Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus).in A. Poole, editor. The Birds of North America Online. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca
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