Foster’s Tern

Fosters Tern Sterna Forsteri

Commonly seen Spring, Summer and Fall on the Elkhorn Slough

Often confused with a Common Tern being medium sized with silvery wings and a forked tail.  Forster’s Tern have a longer tail and when not breeding with display a black eyepatch.

Flying slowly over the water Forster’s Terns scan for fish and then dive to capture food.  

The adults have a breeding courtship where they will spiral through the air during flight.  In pairs with raised bills they will parade through the colony as courtship as well. 

In the 1800’s Forster’s Terns were mounted on large hats as a fashion statement. This practice ended with the migratory bird act.

Banned in 1973 and found in California in 1989 the Oldest known Forster’s tern was at least 15 years, 10 months old