French: Sterne royale German: Königsseeschwalbe Spanish: Charrán real
Subspecies and Distribution
T. m. albididorsalis
(E. J. O. Hartert, 1921) – Breeds Mauritania S along coast to Guinea, occasionally farther S. Some range N to Morocco after breeding. Winters S to Namibia.
T. m. maximus
(Boddaert, 1783) – coastal SW USA (S California) to NW Mexico (Sinaloa), and E USA (Maryland, rarely New Jersey, to Texas) through West Indies to the Guianas and possibly Brazil, with disjunct breeding populations in Yucatán Peninsula, and in S Brazil, Uruguay and N Patagonia; winters S to Peru and to Uruguay and Argentina.
45–51 cm; 320–500 g (maximus 380–500 g; albididorsalis 320–440 g, mean 367 g); wingspan 100–135 cm. Crown and elongated nape... read more
Highly vocal, especially at nesting colonies. Contact or advertising call characteristic: a loud,... read more
Subtropical and tropical coasts. Breeds on barren sandy barrier beaches, salt-marsh islands, shell... read more
Food and feeding
Mainly small fish (3–18 cm, average 6·7 cm), also squid, shrimps and crabs. In Africa, mainly Clupeidae, Mugilidae,... read more
Lays Apr–Jul in W Africa, Apr in Texas, May from Florida to Maryland, Jun in French Guiana, Nov in Patagonia. Breeds in dense, often... read more
Both races are migratory and both show a degree of northbound post-breeding dispersal, followed by... read more
Status and conservation
Not globally threatened (Least Concern). In the Americas, race maxima is estimated at 139,000 birds on Atlantic/Gulf coasts and > 26,000 birds on the Pacific coast.... read more
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