Sunday, May 27, 2012

Common Tern Behavior

Common Tern
Common Tern
As I have stated in a previous blog, I was photographing a pair of common terns on a rock offshore near the East town beach in Westport, when one of the terns flew away.  I continued to observe and photograph the other tern that was on the rock, when the tern that left returned carrying a fish.  The tern landed on the rock, and proceeded to present the fish to the tern that was waiting on the rock.  The second tern gladly took the fish and ate it.

Common Tern
Landing with Fish
Common Tern
Offering
Common Tern
Offering
Common Tern
Eating Fish
This behavior is known as "courtship feeding".  It usually occurs at the breeding grounds, but can occur near the breeding grounds.  This is how the terns bond prior to copulation.  After copulation, usually both sexes will feed themselves, but, prior to egg laying the male tern feeds the female tern almost exclusively.
Yesterday I returned to the area, and the terns were still present, leading me to wonder if they are going to nest on part of the beach that is on the Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary.  If so, the area will need to be cordoned off to protect the nest.