Caspian tern 1

Just lookin’. . .it seems innocent enough. . .

Caspiuan tern 6

But that’s how the Caspian terns do it — a nonchalant flyover that begets a frenetic flying frenzy!  They circle and hover for several minutes in crazy cycles before suddenly and spectacularly dive-bombing for the prize.

The prize could be a crayfish but more likely is an unlucky fin fish, which the tern will immediately make short work of.  And as soon as it is consumed (or forwarded to the young ‘uns for breakfast), the frenzy begins all over again.

cormorants watching

The cormorants stop fishing to watch. . .

Poor little fish!  They probably never know what hit them!

Caspian terns look like gulls, but they’re not.  They are slender, more colorful, and less annoying (unless you’re a fish — in that case, they are dangerous!).  All About Birds, Cornell University’s website on all-things-feathered, states that “there is little information on Caspian Tern population trends,” but notes survival of the species is of “low concern.”

Caspian tern 5

Getting ready to plunge

The truth is, Caspian terns are just about everywhere — they are found on every continent except Antarctica (environmentalists call this a “cosmopolitan distribution”).

There must be several colonies of Caspian terns where I live in western New York, because I see them flying over just about any of the wetlands I visit.

Caspian tern 7

Touchdown!

And why not?  Their diet consists of fish, fish, and more fish, but if they are reallyreallyREALLY hungry they are not averse to making a meal of crayfish.

Or snacking on big, fat insects.

(Insects — ewwww!)

Caspian tern 10

Upward and onward!

Caspian terns have to be alert and cautious while hunting, though, because any laggards could themselves easily become a tasty meal for owls or eagles. . .

. . .and maybe even gulls. . .

. . .not to mention foxes or raccoons.

 

 

If the terns leave their nests unattended for too long, they might return to find them pillaged, their eggs and little ones having been a delectable lunch for one of the above.

Caspian tern 9

This one’s for the kids

I mean, who knows of a raccoon that doesn’t enjoy a feast of eggs?

However, Caspian tern predators must be stealthy and sly; otherwise, they might find themselves surrounded and harassed by a mob of angry tern parents.

Caspian tern 12

Caspian terns understand the harsh nature of nature, but they will fiercely protect their families from it!

wow, what a show

Wow, did you see that???

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