Florida has several different species of terns including gull-billed,

sooty, caspian, royal, sandwich, roseate, least, common, arctic,  bridled, forester’s, and black.


All Florida terns are adorned with black and white feathers. 

They are in the same taxonomic family, Laridae, as gulls.


Fish is the main food for terns.  Some terns will also eat squid, insects, fiddler crabs, shrimp, bird eggs, and crustaceans when they are available.

The characteristic feeding behavior of most terns is to fly over water in search of food items at or near the surface. Sometimes they stop and hover to get a

better look and then tuck their wings back and dive into the water to catch the prey with their bill.


Terns typically nest in open areas with sparse, short vegetation. Their nests consist of shallow depressions in the sand or eggs are merely laid on the surface of more solid substrates such as rocks, crushed shells, or gravel.


Because of the limited availability of suitable, undisturbed, natural nesting habitat, some terns have resorted to nesting on human-made structures such as rooftops and spoil islands.



Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Cornell Lab of Ornithology


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