Forster’s terns (Sterna forsteri) are the only tern that spends the entire year in North and Central America. They winter in coastal habitats and breed in the interior of the continent (except for some populations along the Gulf and Mid-Atlantic coasts).
Forster’s terns breed and summer in our area. Breeding adults with their white underparts, pale grey upper parts, black caps, deeply forked tails and black-tipped orange bills are common sights in the Ash Creek Wildlife Area (Modoc County CA), where these photographs were taken.
Forster’s terns prefer to breed in marshes containing large areas of open water and floating vegetation. Their nests can be a simple scrape in mud or sand or a complex floating raft of vegetation.
Forster’s terns are one of the earlier birds to return to the wildlife area. I already anticipate seeing these graceful birds before long.