Physical Characteristics Natural History Distribution In Nova Scotia Status

Roseate Terns (Sterna dougallii) get their name from the pink colour of their breast. However, this characteristic is rarely visible and Roseate Terns are better identified by their long tail streamers, black caps, orange legs and black bills with red at the base that extends down the bill as the breeding season proceeds.

In their non-breeding plumage, the black cap is replaced by a white forehead, their tail streamers are shorter and both their legs and their bill are completely black.

Roseate Terns are physically similar to Arctic and Common Terns. When compared with these two species, Roseate Terns have shorter wings, a longer tail with streamers, and longer legs than Arctic Terns. The easiest way to tell them apart, however, is to look at their bills or listen to their calls. Roseate Terns' bills are black and may have red at the base, Common Terns' bills are red with a black tip and Arctic Terns' bills are completely red.

The harsh call of the Roseates is also different from the call of Arctic and Common Terns.

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