Caspian Terns

Caspian Tern in flightCaspian Tern in flight – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/2500, ISO 500, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 280mm, natural light

Caspian Terns (Hydroprogne caspia) are North America’s largest tern with a wingspan of 50 inches and weighing in at 1.4 pounds. The image above shows an adult going into nonbreeding plumage coming in for a landing at Fort De Soto’s north beach during the month of September.

Caspian Tern on a mudflatCaspian Tern on a mudflat – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 160, Nikkor 70-300mm VR at 300mm, natural light

This image shows an adult Caspian Tern in breeding plumage with a solid black, glossy cap, this was taken during the month of May also at Fort De Soto’s north beach.

I am fortunate that I see these large terns here in Utah as well. I usually hear their harsh “kraa” long before I see them. Although I have seen a few lately they will soon be gone to their wintering grounds.


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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.


  1. Thanks for your comments Bob Z, Nicole, Stu, Bob B, Laurence, Dave, Matthew, Maria, Tammy, Julie, Edith and Ingrid.

    Maria, I’d never heard of “Cabot’s Tern” before, I’ve always called them by the name in my bird guide books.

  2. I think I might have mentioned that their call sounds, to me, like the gravelly voice of a barfly. :-) Distinctive and always welcome!

  3. Beautiful captures. The first image is amazing.

  4. They are really handsome birds. Nice contrast in plumages.

  5. Beautiful captures of these handsome terns!

  6. I had an encounter with the Cabot’s (or Sandwich) terns, this one is very striking and bigger. Nice action shot.

  7. Great photos of a very striking species!

  8. Mia:
    Good work getting the catch light in the Caspian Terns. It’s strange that I rarely see Caspian Terns in the Pensacola area. We get Royal and Gull-billed, but I don’t have any photos of Caspian taken locally. I find them in Louisiana and, of course, at Ft. Desoto, but they seem to fly over this area.

  9. Beautiful Mia! Magnificent bird, magnificent shots.

  10. Love ‘em. You can get them over here, but not very many. Brilliant shots.

  11. Great Photograph Mia. One good Tern… ;) It is great that nature never held back on the use of color for birds… the bill on this tern looks hand painted. Wonderful

  12. Beautiful! I don’t know if I’ve ever seen one before!!!

  13. That’s one big tern. Great shots, Mia.

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