Conservation Status: Near Threatened, USFWS Bird of Conservation Concern
Description: As their name suggests, an elegant, sleek-looking shorebird that is white underneath with light grey wings, a slender orange bill, and a crown of black feathers. During the breeding season, their crown will be fully black and during the winter months, the top will have more white feathers. Their legs appear relatively short and small.
Play Elegant Tern call:
Where to find them: All along the Pacific coast from California down to the northern part of Chile and throughout the Gulf of California. They are also found in a few locations in Western Europe.
- The majority of these terns nest in the Gulf of California, but some colonies have begun nesting in locations along the California coast.
- The largest wildlife response Bird Rescue has handled out of its own centers was the Long Beach Tern Incident of 2021 in which over 3,000 Elegant Terns passed through our hands.
Threats: Habitat loss, nest disturbance, overfishing
How YOU can Help: Be aware when visiting beaches! Don’t let your dogs off leash outside of designated dog beaches. Participate in a beach cleanup.
Audio clip from www.xeno-canto.com Recorded by Aidan Place XC332628
Additional photography courtesy of Howard Freshman