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More Undocumented Behaviour

Sometimes we see things and only realize their importance after the fact. Late last year, I was enjoying observing some of our migratory terns fish off Trinidad’s west coast. The usual species were all present, but among them was an uncommon migrant; a Gull-billed Tern. These thick-billed birds are seen sparingly during the boreal winter, and I’ve noticed that I could never really trace their appearance to any specific habitat. I’ve seen them at mudflats, on open fields, and now here, flying back and forth over open water. Furthermore, it seemed to be fishing just like the other terns, diving headfirst into the water after having seen some movement from the sky.

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Apart from the poetic beauty of these angelic birds in the glassy blue water, the most amazing thing was that in subsequent reading, I realized that Gull-billed Terns are not known to plunge-dive for their food. Is this an adaptation? Are their usual food sources of invertebrates on mudflats or open fields in scarce supply? At least there is hope, as adaptations in habits are usually a good sign, as I mentioned in my last post.

And this particular bird boasted a decent success rate, I observed it flying away with a meal most times.

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I encourage everyone to keep their eyes open, we can all contribute by sharing experiences and observations 🙂

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