Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sooty Tern

Onychoprion fuscatus
There are dozens of species of Tern, and while many look alike, today's animal is quite distinct. Sooty Terns have very dark feathers on their back, wings, and on their face, as well as a black bill and feet. This sets them apart from all the lighter colored, and often yellow-billed Terns.

Sooty Terns are one of the most abundant Seabird species in the tropics-- there may be as many as 60 million of them! They live throughout the tropical oceans, and rarely come to land at all, only migrating to various islands in order to breed and lay their eggs. Did you know that these Terns can spend several years at sea?

When they do decide to come ashore, they craft nests on the ground in scrapes and crevasses. They lay 1-3 eggs at a time. Sooty Terns have decently long lifespans-- lasting around 32 years.

Sooty Terns feed on fish, crustaceans, and squid, and they require these meals to be driven to the surface in order to be caught. Therefore they depend a lot on other predators (like large fish) to also be hunting.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : Tropical Oceans
Size : Length up to 14in (36cm), Wingspan up to 36in (92cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Charadriiformes
Family : Sternidae -- Genus : Onychoprion -- Species : O. fuscatus

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