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Migration of the Common and Roseate Tern through the Caribbean

 
swans
(@swans)
Trusted Member

Greetings:
The Common Terns (from Argentina) and the Roseate Terns (from Brazil) will be migrating to North America within the next week or so to their nesting sights. As part of a study program, sightings of these two species would be appreciated should you see them passing through the Virgin Islands. Their exact migratory route to date is still not definitive. Many thanks in advance. Note: Both the Common and Roseate Terns look very similar; posted is the Common Tern.

Swan

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Topic starter Posted : April 21, 2011 1:37 am
Jules
(@Jules)
Trusted Member

If we see them, to whom do we report?

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Posted : April 21, 2011 8:38 am
swans
(@swans)
Trusted Member

Good morning Jules,

If you see the terns, especially in any appreciable numbers, you can PM me please. I am researching their possible migratory route(s) / pattern(s) from South America, through the Caribbean, and to North America's coastal nesting sights.

Thank you,
Swan

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Topic starter Posted : April 21, 2011 11:44 am
Ericw
(@Ericw)
Advanced Member

Saw them in Cancun 2 weeks ago

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Posted : April 21, 2011 3:37 pm
swans
(@swans)
Trusted Member

Ericw:

Thank you for your observation. Reports reveal that the terns (sometimes referred to as "Sea Swallows" by fishermen) do - in fact - migrate through the Mexican Caribbean.

It still amazes me that these beautiful characters will travel thousands of miles from their wintering areas in Brazil and Argentina to lay, hatch, and rear their couple of offspring on rocky grounds as far north as Nova Scotia, only to endure the thousands of miles return trip back to South America.:D However, at only approximately 120 to 140gms. in weight, they are a tough breed!

FYI, the Roseate Tern is listed as "Endangered" and the Common Tern is listed as "Threatened" by the USFWS - Dept. of Interior.

Thank you all for your siting observations.
Swan

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Topic starter Posted : April 23, 2011 12:55 pm
Molly
(@Molly)
Advanced Member

What is their normal diet? A few years back we were having a fathers day picnic at Magens and it amazed me that they were after the BBQ ribs. It was comical to watch because the one that snuck away with a rib had little time to enjoy it before another guy swooped in and stole it. It never occured to me until that day that they would eat meat.

I'm pretty sure that it was the Roseate Tern unless there is another species that travels through the islands that is a close match.

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Posted : April 23, 2011 1:10 pm
swans
(@swans)
Trusted Member

G'morning Molly,

The terns diet: baitfish.

The small baitfish are chased up to the surface of the water by the larger fish (usually sportfish that fishermen love to catch, especially on charter - fishing boats.) During these events, the birds will be seen in relatively large numbers, will feverishly fly about, hover, and dive for the baitfish; several times. The baitfish are also located around islands / large lakes etc. But the terns eat fish.

Perhaps it was a small seagull who stole the ribs at your picnic at Magens, because you're absolutely correct: a tern will not be interested in or eat any meat product. Gulls are thieves, however, and will eat a large variety of foods.:D But it is not uncommon for the terns to steal a nice fish from another tern, given the opportunity!

Thank you,
Swan

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Topic starter Posted : April 23, 2011 1:46 pm
Eurospace
(@Eurospace)
Active Member

One or two pair nesting Commons - I think.
Will show you.
Sent you PM.
Dave

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Posted : June 21, 2011 12:10 am
Beeski
(@beeski)
Trusted Member

There are Terns, I believe Least Terns, nesting on the sand bar off of Pull Point:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Least_Tern

I was going to hang out on the sand bar....but they were there first....squatters rights 🙂

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Posted : June 21, 2011 1:11 am
onthespot
(@onthespot)
Advanced Member

Took this last January, 2011. It is the breakwater by Divi Carina hotel, St croix. Taken 1/18/11 early morning.

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Posted : June 21, 2011 4:45 am
swans
(@swans)
Trusted Member

There are Terns, I believe Least Terns, nesting on the sand bar off of Pull Point:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Least_Tern

I was going to hang out on the sand bar....but they were there first....squatters rights 🙂

Beeski, Yes. Least Terns (Sterna antillarum - listed as 'Threatened' by USFWS) nest on the sand at beaches. Nothing fancy in terms of a nest, mind you, and it certainly leaves them accessible to predation and mostly to human disturbance and activities. Oftentimes, USFWS will establish a fencing parimeter to help protect the nesters and provide people with a warning not to approach a certain area. Sometimes it is the only chance the birds have of hatching and raising their young. And we can only hope that people will respect the areas designated as temporarily off- limits. Your action in leaving the area is one of the respect you have for nature...thank you!

Onthespot: Great photo! These appear to be Common Terns (Sterna hirundo - listed as "Special Concern" by USFWS.) Then again, they could also be Roseate Terns (Sterna dougallii - listed as "Endangered by USFWS) since the Common and Roseates resemble one another without the benefit of a closer look. Although they are known to winter in Argentina and Brazil, it appears that they are enjoying a nice vacation on STX before completing their journey! Must be some great fishing for them too!

Dave: Thank you. Will send details in the PM.

Thank you all!
Swan

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Topic starter Posted : June 21, 2011 7:20 pm
Eurospace
(@Eurospace)
Active Member

Hey Swan,
Commons. We thought so, but thanks for verification.
Don't complain. We know you love to fly.
I'll let you know when they hatch.
Launch yesterday postponed as you know. Will PM you.
Thanks, Dave

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Posted : July 2, 2011 4:30 pm
swans
(@swans)
Trusted Member

Greetings

The Common and Roseate Terns will be migrating once again over the next several weeks from their nesting grounds in North America to Argentina and Brazil in South America. Although their routes may take them through the Mexican Caribbean, can you please keep a look-out as they may migrate through the Virgin Islands. The Terns' exact migratory pattern is still unknown. If seen in any appreciable numbers, please post or send me a PM.

Please note: The Common and Roseate Tern are very similar in appearance. The Common Tern is shown.

Thank you all,

Swan

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Topic starter Posted : October 7, 2011 1:56 pm
Eurospace
(@Eurospace)
Active Member

Swan: Your friend's right. Outer Banks , NC.
We have spotters set through Mex. carib. and to VI.
Early flight to F. Guiana. Will call later.
Dave

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Posted : October 17, 2011 8:42 am
Neil
 Neil
(@Neil)
Trusted Member

I took this photo last June 2011 at Salt River. We paddled by a busy nesting ground of terns on the east side of the opening of Salt River Bay.

Click to enlarge.

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Posted : October 18, 2011 2:01 am
swans
(@swans)
Trusted Member

I took this photo last June 2011 at Salt River. We paddled by a busy nesting ground of terns on the east side of the opening of Salt River Bay.

Click to enlarge.

Good morning Neil,

Fantastic photo! These terns appear to be Least Terns (Sterna -Sternula- antillarum) and nest along the sandy coasts from the Caribbean to even the northern coastlnes.They migrate to South America (usually Brazil) for the winter, although their exact wintering locations have yet to be identified.

Although listed Federally as Special Concern, many states list them as Endangered. Primarily, habitat loss and destruction of eggs during nesting ( by human activity) have accounted for their low population numbers. Averaging about 50gm. in weight, they are approximately one-half the size of the Common and Roseate Terns.

Many many thanks for your wonderful photo, your interest and your sharing them with us!

Swan

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Topic starter Posted : October 18, 2011 10:38 am
Eurospace
(@Eurospace)
Active Member

Quick report. No CT/RT sighted here in KFG during past week. Not surprised.
Will be back on island tomorrow. Thx for covering.
Dave

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Posted : October 23, 2011 10:31 am
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