08-12-2003, 12:36 PM
On Sunday I witnessed a guy accidently take a bird down with spinning gear. Fortunately, only the line got tangled and after a few brief moments flew away to join his flock. It was possibly a tern but appeared smaller. It was white with a black head. In any case, before releasing the bird we realized it had two silver tags around its ankles marked S3 99. I haven't had much luck finding anything on the net that might lead me to their origin. Any info would be appreciated.
08-12-2003, 01:31 PM
Where's Penguin? This is one he should chime in on.
In breeding plumage, according to my Sibley guide, the Common Tern, Artic Tern, Forster's Tern, and Roseate Tern all have black heads. All four are about 12" long with wingspan around 30". The bill color and length are diagnostic. All of 'em are around now, but the Common appears in much greater numbers. Least Terns are smaller (9"L 20"WS), but they have a pretty conspicuous white band on the forehead . Leasts have a distinctive yellow bill; the bigger terns have darker orange to black bills. Because Least Terns are a threatened species, it may be likelier that they'd be banded, but that's just conjecture on my part. No other gull or shorebirds that I know of fit your size and plumage description.
Here are a couple of images of a Common Tern: http://www.birdingamerica.com/Maine/Maine%20images/commonrock.jpg
Here are a couple of Least Terns:
08-12-2003, 02:56 PM