Possible roseate tern at Blue Creek Reservoir

Linda Wentz and I observed what we think might be a roseate tern at Blue Creek on the Duck Valley Reservation today (8/20/2023).  Light conditions were not great, but the bird we saw had a white forked tail, tho not as deeply forked as a Forester’s or common tern, light gray wings with white in the inner primaries and outer secondaries, white forehead, and black head. It also seemed to have some black in the outer primaries.  The bill looked dark, but the light was not good enough to see if there was any red at the base. It was the same size, or very close, to a common tern that it was hanging with.  The bird was flying all over the reservoir, but mostly seen in the northern half. The common tern didn’t seem pleased to have it around, but we frequently saw both birds in relatively close proximity. We considered common, Forester’s, least, and arctic terns, but none of those have white in the secondaries.  Never saw the bird land and could not see the legs. Too small for a Caspian tern and clearly a tern, not a gull. Would be great to have other birders with more experience with terns to confirm or deny our tentative identification.

Louisa Evers
Take care of the birds and you take care of the world