thin billed tern with black crest (see Sandwich Tern).
with seasonal plumage variation. Legs and bill yellow, but somewhat
variable in color. Non-breeding adults have white foreheads and crown
mottled with black and white. Outer-most three primaries blackish.
Crest plumage is longer and more shaggy than that of Sandwich Tern.
with brown tips, distinct carpal bar on upper wing (absent in adults).
Bill and legs olive brown. Outer 4-6 primaries dark grey.
the genus Thalasseus with other crested terns. Closely related to the
more temperate Sandwich Tern. Many consider the Cayenne Tern of the
southern Caribbean and South America to be a subspecies of the Sandwich
Tern. These two terns are known to pair together and interbreeding has
been reported. Varying percentages of populations are represented by
birds with intermediate bill colors, suggesting introgression between
S. eurygnata and acuflavida is widespread. This is not true of Cayenne
Tern populations in Brazil and Argentina. This tern is treated
separately here mostly
because it is simpler for us to discuss distributions and conservation
issues in individual accounts.
be seen only near nesting sites in the Netherlands Antilles. Because of
its sporadic appearance in various tern colonies in the region, large
colonies should be checked for individual pairs of these birds.
occurs along the northern and eastern South American coast and also in
Caribbean. Was not reported in the West Indies prior to 1962. It is not
clear if they were overlooked or if these terns have recently expanded
their breeding range northward. The latter is most likely as most
breeding colonies unknown in region prior to the 1980s. Currently nest
in Netherlands Antilles, islands off the Venezuelan coast, off Guyana
and along the coast of Brazil and southern Argentina. Vagrants reported
from in coastal North Carolina.
In West Indies nesting reported only from Puerto Rico, the US and
British Virgin Islands and Trinidad.
distances from colonies unknown; assumed to be a short-range migrant.
Not studied in region. See Sandwich Tern.
information. Colonial often nesting with other
tern species. Avoids areas disturbed and where Laughing Gulls are
nesting (Aruba). Colonies formed in fine sand with sparse vegetation.
Eggs deposited second week in May, occasionally as early as 22 April.
Chicks flock together at a few days of age (Aruba). Adults and chicks
abandon colonies in late August to early September (Guyana). See
United States Virgin Islands
British Virgin Islands
Trinidad and Tobago
is considered to be critically endangered in the West Indies (Schreiber
and Lee 2000). Netherlands Antilles and South American population
somewhat stable but small, perhaps declining as a result of egging,
development and pollution (oil refineries).
of tern colonies in the West Indies researchers should be aware that
individual pairs of Cayenne Terns could be present.
studies to determine the relationship of this tern to Sandwich Terns
needed. With the recent expansion of both Sandwich and Cayenne Terns
into the region hybridization appears o be occurring. They have been
seen paired with Sandwich Terns and hybrids have been reported. Reports
of bill colors of nesting Sandwich and Cayenne Terns in various
populations is useful.
Because of the rarity of this tern in
the West Indies all known nesting sites deserve full protection.
Laughing Gulls are an issue at many nesting sites.
and F. G. Buckley. 1984. Cayenne Tern new to North America, with
comments on its relationship to Sandwich Terns. Auk 101: 396-398.
Junge , G. C. A. and A. K. Voous. 1955. The distribution and
relationship of Sterna eurygnatha Saunders. Ardea 43: 226-247.
Norton, R. L. Cayenex Sandwich terns nesting in the Virgin Islands,
Greater Antilles. Journal Field Ornithology 55: 243-246.
R. L. 2000. Status and conservation of Sandwich and Cayenne Terns in
the West Indies. Pages
80-83 in E. A. Schreiber and D. S. Lee (eds.)
Status and Conservation of West Indian Seabirds. Society of Caribbean
Ornithology, Special Publication Number 1.225 pp.
F. C., R. L. Norton and J. Taylor. 1986. Range extension of Cayenne
terns on the Puerto Rico Bank. Wilson Bulletin 98(2): 317-318.
D. 1999. Sandwich Tern (Sterna
The Birds of North
America, No. 405 (A. Poole and F. Gill. Eds.). The Birds of North
America, Inc., Philadelphia.
Van Halewyn, R. and R. Norton.
1984.The status and conservation of seabirds in the Caribbean. Pages
169-222 in J. P. Croxall, P. G. Evans and R. W. Schreiber
Status and Conservation of the World's Seabirds. ICBP Tech. Publ., No.
2. 778 p.
by: Dave Lee and Will Mackin
Indian Breeding Seabird Atlas by Will
Mackin and David Lee is licensed
under a Creative
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Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.wicbirds.net.
Citation: Lee, D. S., W. A. Mackin. 2009. Cayenne Tern. West Indian
Breeding Seabird Atlas
<http://www.wicbirds.net/cayt.html>. Last Updated: _____.
Date accessed: ______.