Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)
The Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia) is a large seabird belonging to the family Laridae. It is found in coastal and inland wetlands across much of the world, including the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, and the coasts of North America and Australia.
The Caspian Tern is one of the largest terns, measuring around 48-60 centimeters (19-24 inches) in length, with a wingspan of approximately 127-145 centimeters (50-57 inches). It has a distinctive white plumage, a red bill, and black legs. The bird’s tail is long and deeply forked, and its head is slightly crested during the breeding season. The male and female share similar coloration and markings, with little sexual dimorphism.
The Caspian Tern primarily feeds on fish, such as herring, smelt, and mullet, as well as crustaceans and other aquatic animals. The bird hunts by flying over water and diving down to catch its prey using its sharp bill.
Reproduction and Lifecycle:
The breeding season for the Caspian Tern typically occurs between April and August, depending on the location. These birds are colonial nesters and form large breeding colonies on beaches, islands, and other coastal areas. They build a shallow scrape in the sand or gravel, sometimes lined with vegetation or shells.
The female lays 1 to 3 pale blue or greenish-blue eggs, which are incubated by both parents for around 21-28 days. After hatching, the chicks are fed and cared for by both parents until they fledge, or leave the nest, at about 35-45 days old. The young birds become fully independent within a few weeks of fledging.
The Caspian Tern is currently listed as a species of “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to its wide distribution and stable population. The species is not facing any major threats at present. However, habitat loss due to coastal development, pollution, and disturbance to breeding colonies could pose potential risks to the Caspian Tern population in the future. Conservation efforts focus on habitat preservation and monitoring populations to ensure their long-term survival.