Royal Terns in breeding and nonbreeding plumage

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Royal Tern in nonbreeding plumageRoyal Tern in nonbreeding plumage – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/1500, ISO 200, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light

Just a simple post today to show the differences in the breeding and nonbreeding plumage of Royal Terns. Royal Terns are “Crested Terns”, in this image the crest isn’t visible. The white on the top of this terns head indicates that it is in nonbreeding plumage.

Royal Tern in breeding plumageTern in breeding plumage – Nikon D200, handheld, f7.1, 1/1500, ISO 250, Nikkor 80-400mm at 400mm, natural light

The shaggy crest is visible in this image and the black extends from the bill to just under the eye and to the tips of the crest. In some adult Royal Terns the bill can be more red than this adult.



  1. Dan Huber November 6, 2012 at 5:04 am

    Wonderful Mia, nice low angle on the non-breeding 🙂

    • Mia McPherson November 8, 2012 at 4:53 am

      Thanks Dan, guess you can tell I was sand crawling 🙂

  2. Stu November 5, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Excellent Images Mia. Love the first guy!! ( Can you post some bad ones so I can say something different 😉

    • Mia McPherson November 8, 2012 at 4:42 am

      Stu, thanks for commenting. I will try to take some bad images for you 😉

  3. Tammy Karr November 4, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Excellent captures! They look so sharp in their breeding plumage!!

    • Mia McPherson November 4, 2012 at 4:16 pm

      Thank you Tammy! They are rather dapper in breeding plumage.

  4. Bob Bushell November 4, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Oh, that’s nice. Fantastic photos of the Royal Terns.

    • Mia McPherson November 4, 2012 at 2:45 pm

      Thanks Bob, they are great subjects!

  5. Libby November 4, 2012 at 4:28 am

    Beautiful photos! We used to live on a boat in Florida, so I love all your photos of sea birds and shore birds. We sailed out to the Dry Tortugas, one of the few nesting sites of the Sooty Terns and Noddy Terns. It was a spectacular sight, though quite noisy.

    • Mia McPherson November 4, 2012 at 4:15 pm


      I wish i had gone to the Dry Tortugas while I lived in Florida because of the fantastic birds that nest there and the migrants too. Living on a boat must have been great fun! thanks so much for commenting.

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