Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2002-17

Common name:

Least Tern

Scientific name: Sterna antillarum
Date: 15 May 2002
Time: 08:30
Length of time observed: 20 minutes (off and on)
Number: 1
Age: adult
Sex: unk.
Location: above Washington Fields Diversion
County: Washington
Distance to bird: 15-50 meters
Optical equipment: none
Weather: clear
Light Conditions: sunny
Detailed description of bird: Yellow bill very noticeable.  Leg-color not obvious (but would be more obvious if they were black).  Black cap with black extending to the eye, but not the forehead.  forked tail.  Black edge-primaries on top, ends of wings dark on bottom.  very light gray above, white below, forked tail.  Noticeably smaller than any other tern that I
have observed (seemed about the same size as a slim rock dove).
Song or call & method of delivery: none heard
Behavior: Least tern observed fluttering above water, diving, and feeding on young of year fish in a large backwater area.
Habitat: riparian area along virgin river with water backed from diversion.
Similar species and
how were they eliminated:
other terns are noticeably larger and do not have bright yellow bills.  Others have white forheads during non-breeding, but now they should be in breeding plumage.
Previous experience with this & similar species: None with this species, although have seen Caspian, forsters, and black terns in Utah, common tern in Nevada, and sandwich and royal terns in Florida.
References consulted: National Geographic Field Guide to Birds of North America
The Sibley Guide to birds
Peterson Field Guide to Western Birds
Description from: From memory
Observer: Kevin Wheeler
Observer's address: 455 South 1100 East, # 6, St. George, UT 84790
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified
this bird:
Date prepared: 5/15/02   (General Public)
Additional material: