I birded the Milwaukee lakefront this morning for a short period of time. The highlight was Caspian Terns. There were a small amount present on Bradford Beach sitting with many Ring-billed Gulls. There were also a small group of them fishing for food over at McKinley Marina. 5 Black-crowned Night-Herons were on the east side of the Veterans Park Lagoon, and recent ducks that have been reported are still present. I observed many large flocks of Double-crested Cormorants flying north far out over the water, and some flocks very high up over the shoreline. Beautiful morning to be out with lots of sunshine, but the steady northeast winds made it almost feel like winter. Photographs were taken on April 26, 2014 on the lakefront in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Binomial name: Sterna caspia
Category: Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers
Size: 21” long, 50” wing span
Weight: 1.4 lbs.
Habitat: Main breeding habitats are large lakes, ocean coasts, river and barrier islands and marsh in salt water in the Northwestern US and scattered places though out Canada.
Diet: Mainly fish but have been known to also eat large insects and crayfish.
Nesting: They typically nest in colonies. The nest is nothing more than a shallow scrape on the ground made of shell parts, dried plant material and pebbles located in sand or gravel. The rim of the nest may also be topped off with sticks. 1-3 buff eggs are laid which both sexes incubate and they also both care for the young.
Cool Facts: Largest tern in the world. Caspian Terns winter in parts of the southern US and Mexico, some are permanent residents on the California coast. This species flies over the water searching for food. When they locate their food, they plunge straight down into the water to get it. Sometimes they remain under the water for seconds, looks as if they have disappeared. Then they just take flight right out from under the water, pretty amazing!