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Forster's and/or Common Terns - SW MI 4/23


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I had 7 birds in total here.  I'm pretty sure there were at least 3 no doubt Forster's Terns.  The birds were always backlit, so sometimes the birds would look like they were flashing white/silver primaries, other times they looked completely grey and somewhat grey on the body.  

Pretty sure these are Forster's.  

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These are my Common candidates

COTE candidate 1

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COTE candidate 2.

Shot prior to this one the bird on the right looked like wings were fully grey.  

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Same bird on right with two Forster's on left

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COTE candidate 3

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I'm very curious to see a more experienced person's comments. I didn't realize these were so difficult to distinguish...
I'm looking at Sibley's and All About Birds trying to compare them.
Some of this is tricky... 
But a lot of those birds have grayer bodies which, for breeding birds, would put you with common, according to Sibley's.
Don't know if that helps, or if I'm right about that... but that's what I'm seeing.

I hope I get to see a few terns migrate though this year.

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3 hours ago, Hasan said:

Pretty sure all of these are Forster's and your reviewer is right. For the last bird specifically, note that the black on the tail is on the inside, as opposed to the outside on Common.

Thanks.  Wish the Field Guides would say something about this.  None of mine talk about Forster's having any dark on their tail feathers.  

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21 hours ago, chipperatl said:

Thanks.  Wish the Field Guides would say something about this.  None of mine talk about Forster's having any dark on their tail feathers.  

Ditto...
@Hasan is the grayish body I'm seeing not gray enough, not reliable enough a ID trait, or perhaps the bird is not in fully breeding plumage yet?

I don't see a ton of terns so I don't study them enough... somehow had no idea these two could be so difficult to tell apart til I saw this thread.
If I get the chance in the field, I like to listen and use some playback to compare... that doesn't always happen though so, every little bit helps.

 

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