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All Photos Are Copyright Lyn S. Atherton

This page was last updated on 12/02/01.

Elegant Tern--10/09/01, Cortez Beach, Manatee Co., Florida

On the Gulf about 10 miles south of Ft De Soto Park (as the terns fly), Jill Gaetzi and I found what was surely a hybrid of Elegant and Sandwich terns. Its bill was orangish-yellow, much paler than the bills of any of the other Elegant-type terns previously found farther north in Pinellas Co. It also had a noticeably shorter crest than the previous Elegant types, although it was longer than that of adjacent Sandwich Terns. The dark feathering on its crown was more extensive than that of Sandwich and more typical of Elegant. The outer tail feathers were dark with the inners dark near the tips. The wings had very prominent carpal bars. See below.

The only other Elegant-type terns reported after this sighting was of what was believed to be a basic-plumaged adult back north in Pinellas County at Caledessi Island (Honeymoon Island SRA) on 10/30/01 (Ray Webb) and another adult, most likely the same bird, just east of Honeymoon Island on the Dunedin Causeway on 11/03/01 (Kris Nelson). There have been no other reports of Elegant types anywhere in the state since then.