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Royal tern is island hopping more than most

By SCCF - | Nov 4, 2020

SCCF Royal tern 738

Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Shorebird Biologist Audrey Albrecht recently sighted a young royal tern that seems to be island hopping.

She first sighted royal tern 738 at Bowman’s Beach on Aug. 5, then again at the SCCF Charlotte & Delbert Miller Preserve on North Captiva on Sept. 4. Four days later, 738 was seen by Audubon Florida staff on Treasure Island, close to 100 miles north. On Oct. 19, Albrecht re-sighted banded royal tern 738 back at Bowman’s Beach.

Banded as a chick on July 5, 2019, near Brunswick, Georgia, by researchers from Virginia Tech’s Shorebird Program, royal tern 738 is just over 1 year old. Some other banded terns seem to stick around Sanibel more consistently based on SCCF observations. Royal terns do not breed until 3-4 years of age, so there are ones present on island beaches year-round, despite the fact that they do not nest here.

Albrecht also noted a 27-year-old royal tern on her survey work last week.

“I found this tern Friday afternoon between Island Beach Club and Casa Ybel Resort,” she said. “The oldest known royal tern was 31. I hope this one lives four more years to beat the record.”

SCCF 27-year-old royal tern

For questions about shorebirds or to report sightings of a banded ones, contact Albrecht at shorebirds@sccf.org.