~ ARCTIC TERNS of ALASKA ~


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Arctic Tern Migration


The Arctic Tern migration is quite an impressive journey considering that they fly almost from Pole to Pole, covering over 10,000 miles each way.

In the Spring, Arctic Terns migrate North to their breeding grounds (shown in red on the migration map).
In early Fall, they fly back South to the Antarctic region where they spend the Winter (blue).











  Common Name:
  Scientific Name:
  Arctic Tern
  Sterna paradisaea
  Class:
  Family:
  Aves
  Sternidae
  Breeding Range:
  Winter Range:
  Alaska & Northern Coastal Regions
  Coastal Antarctic Regions
  Length:
  Weight:
  32 to 35 cm (Adult)
  80 to 120 grams (Adult)


A large contingent of Arctic Terns migrate to Alaska coastal regions in late spring every year.




Arctic Tern Rescue








Arctic Terns have compassion too: the female Tern in the water, which had just been attacked by a Gull, was about to drown ...

The whole series of pictures taken during the event reveals an extraordinary display of love and heroism from this pair of Arctic Terns. The injured Ternís mate rushed to her rescue by repeatedly trying to pull her out of the water using his beak.
Click to see the Arctic Tern Rescue. >



Arctic Tern Reproduction



Summers are fairly short in Alaska. Arctic Terns only have a narrow window to incubate their eggs and raise their chicks. They usually lay 1 to 3 eggs directly on the ground. This series of pictures documents a wonderful event of nature when a Tern chick just breaks the egg shell and emerges into the world.



Cleaning up the Nest





Arctic Tern feeding chick that hatched just minutes ago. The Tern chicks grow very quickly during the first few days. In this nest, the second egg has not yet hatched.









A happy Tern family: the proud parents attend to their first born while the second egg is still being patiently incubated.





Arctic Tern Chicks


Arctic Tern chick in a ball of fluffy duvet on the second day after hatching. Exploring the new world around the nest.



Arctic Tern Chick Testing Wings







Throughout the day, the Adult Terns bring back small fish and insects to feed their chicks.





Arctic Tern Photos



Pictures of Arctic Terns in action in the marshes of Alaska. Pictures taken during the summer.









Arctic Tern Life in the Marsh


All summer long, Arctic Terns have the primary goal of raising their chicks. In just a few months, the chicks will need to be strong enough to undertake the migration back to the South Pole. The parents are busy catching small fish, aquatic insects or Dragonflies almost all day long.


Beneath the Wing

Although the summers may be hectic, Arctic Terns will spare a few tender moments with their little chicks. They are seen here bonding and cuddling.




Twin Tern Chicks




Arctic Terns in Flight


Arctic Terns are extremely fast when in flight. They are also very good at catching fish and small crustaceans wandering near the surface of the water.






Nursing the Tern Chicks


Shortly after the long Spring migration and reaching their breeding grounds, Arctic Terns only have a few weeks to build their nest and raise their chicks.


Arctic Tern Nest

Arctic Tern and Eggs







Arctic Terns usually lay 1 to 3 eggs. Colored with dark brown spots, Tern eggs are well camouflaged and rest in a small depression directly on the ground. Parents take turn incubating the delicate eggs. After approximately 3 weeks of incubation, the eggs finally hatch.









Above Left: Arctic Tern parent keeps its chick warm under the protection of its wing.








Juvenile Arctic Terns


Growing Tern chicks approximately two weeks after hatching.






Arctic Tern Mating


In a race against time, Arctic Terns are busy starting a new family. Adult Terns only have a few short months to raise their chicks before they all have to start their long migration to the South Pole.

During courtship, the male Tern brings a fish to the female as an offering.






There isn't a moment to spare. Soon after, there will be a few chicks to feed.




Arctic Tern Love Dance







During courtship, one of the partners brings a fish and initiates a love dance.




Feeding Arctic Tern Babies


This Arctic Tern has 2 hungry chicks to feed this summer. With a small fish in its beak, the Tern feeds the chicks all while hovering above them.







Left: The Arctic Tern twins are fighting over a tiny fish. Sibling rivalry is inevitable ...





Twin Chicks

Raising twin chicks is a full time job, requiring the attention of both parents.








Arctic Tern Chick Learning to Eat


This young Arctic Tern is learning the hard way how to eat a Dragonfly. It's tougher than it looks when your meal is fighting back at you with its long legs. It took a while, but in the end, the Dragonfly ended up in the Tern's stomach.







Arctic Tern Juvenile



This young Arctic Tern is testing its new wings and discovers the joy of flying. But it's early July and the fall migration is fast approaching. Before the summer is over, the chick needs to gain enough strength to undertake the 12,000 mile journey south to the wintering grounds of Antarctica.






Happy Family


Growing Tern chick (left) is almost as big as its father (right). Happy Tern family enjoying a tender moment in the marsh.






Arctic Tern Attack




No Trespassing Allowed: Arctic Terns are very territorial birds and will not tolerate any strangers. In this scene, a chick from another couple wandered too close to the neighbour's property. The helpless chick learned a painful lesson.

Click to see this Arctic Tern Attack. >





Arctic Terns in the Sky

Arctic Terns are seen in close contact in the air. Is it an embrace or a fight?








Arctic Tern In Action


Left: Arctic Tern takes off.
Center: An Arctic Tern skims the surface of the water and catches a fish.






Too Big for the Chick

Arctic Tern parent is bringing a fish, but it's a little too big for the small chick.







Life in the Marsh


A Tern chick bathing in the sun. A Tern skimming the surface of the water. A Sandpiper whispering to his new friend. An Arctic Tern ballet dancer, and a chick jumping in the air. That's life as usual in the marshes of Alaska during the summer ...







Parenting





A peaceful moment with an Arctic Tern and chick in this tender scene...











When Arctic Terns Attack





This duck is trespassing on the Arctic Tern's property.








Arctic Tern is not afraid of Mewgulls either.







Arctic Terns in the Marsh

Alaska is a heaven for migratory birds. Hundreds of Arctic Terns come every year to the marsh in late Spring. Arctic Terns, like Trumpeter Swans and Red Necked Grebes, mate for life.













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