Anyone Recognize This Bird?


Been spending a lot of time on here!
Nov 12, 2011
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Nashville, TN
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Does anyone recognize this bird? These are pretty healthy crops because it would never got close to me. It was flying around over a lake here in Nashville, but I can't find anything that looks right for it. It has a kind of heron-ish appearance with that beak but kind of a gull-ish appearance with those wings. If anyone has any ideas I'd appreciate a point in the right direction.


I would say maybe a caspian tern or royal tern
I think you guys are right, but I think John (Shep) was closer. I think it's a Caspian Tern since All About Birds states that the Royal Tern is "A large, orange-billed tern, the Royal Tern is found only along ocean beaches" and this was not along an ocean beach. Lake, yes, but we're 500 miles from the nearest ocean.

The Caspian Tern, also according to All About Birds has a dark tip on its bill and this one does. While it isn't normal to this area Tennessee is on its migration route.

Thanks for the help guys!
Gulls and terns, I've decided, are even harder to distinguish than sparrows.

I'd probably guess Caspian on this as well, but another possibility is a Forster's tern, which are migratory in Tennessee. The Forster's have the black cap when they are in breeding plumage, so perhaps this one's plumage is just changing.

Do you have any pictures of it that show the tail better? The Forster's tern has a deeply forked tail, whereas the Caspian's tail is much shorter and not forked.

Nice shots of it, by the way; I especially like that first one!
I have a not-very-good shot that shows the tail. It's certainly not what I'd call "Forked" and is pretty short. The photos I looked at of the Forsters Tern appear to have a more slender beak as well, not quite as deep and heavy as this one appears.


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