baby tern

It’s hot out!

Even when they’re under 24 hours old, common tern (Sterna hirundo) chicks are already employing gular flutter when their parents aren’t shading them from the sun. Gular flutter is an awful lot like a dog’s panting; birds rapidly undulate the flap of skin underneath their mandible to push out hot air and draw in fresh air that is cooled as the moisture in their mouth evaporates.

Don’t worry! Hidden camera footage reveals that as soon as I left these chicks after banding them, a dedicated parent came back to keep these kiddos cool.

Royal Tern ~ Königsseeschwalbe ~ Thalasseus maximus

One of my first bird encounters in Florida - a (fully fledged!) Royal Tern juvenile persistently (!) begging for food. The parent bird was torn between ignorance and embarrassment and I felt a little sorry for the hopeful giant baby who never was “handed over” a fish.

Canaveral National Seashore, Florida, USA

2014 © Jesse Alveo