An Adult Forster’s Tern Hovering Over Prey

/, Birds, Box Elder County, Forster's Terns, Utah/An Adult Forster’s Tern Hovering Over Prey

Forster's Tern hovering over preyForster’s Tern hovering over prey – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/2500, ISO 500, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR, natural light

I haven’t seen my first terns of the year but I know that it won’t be long before the Caspian and Forster’s Terns return to breed and nest here in northern Utah. Maybe I will even get lucky and see a Black Tern this year.

In Florida I saw Forster’s Terns in the winter and they weren’t in breeding plumage then but here in Utah I do get to see them in their finest breeding plumage.

One of the places I see Forster’s reliably is Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Box Elder County as they fly over the marshes. When I photographed this  Forster’s Tern hovering over prey there were several others in the area doing the same thing which makes it difficult to decide on which bird to photograph. The terns don’t hover long so quite often by the time I get my lens on them they either fly away or dive towards the water after the prey. I can’t tell you how many clipped tern images I have taken, but it is a lot.

The other difficulty I find when photographing these terns in breeding plumage is getting light in the bird’s eye, they have black eyes and they are in the black feathers of the tern’s head in breeding plumage so the eyes can be hard to see. In this image the tern’s eye showed only a tiny catch light but I really liked the pose.

This Forster’s Tern image was taken at the refuge last May and when I look at it I can almost hear them calling.

Life is good.



  1. Deborah April 8, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    Beautiful! Excellent catch!

  2. Utahbooklover April 8, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    Wonderful image Mia. Thanks!

  3. Elephant's Child April 8, 2016 at 2:03 pm


  4. Janes Heartsong April 8, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    love this pose- soon will be seeing this for myself. Spring is early this year. barely had any winter.

  5. Jane Shipp April 8, 2016 at 10:11 am

    Nice photo! I find it particularly hard to focus accurately on a bird in motion against a bright sky! You managed to nail it! Great photo.

  6. Patty Chadwick April 8, 2016 at 8:18 am

    Beautiful! Love the gracefully fanned tail and the detail and angle of the wings…a wonderfyl shot!

  7. Molly April 8, 2016 at 7:29 am


  8. Bob McPherson April 8, 2016 at 6:33 am

    Beautiful photo Mia.

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