The Royal Tern is common along tropical and subtropical shores of the world throughout the entire year, favoring protected warm coastal waters, as in bays, lagoons and estuaries. Habitats throughout Southwest Florida provide ample areas for this bird and plenty of viewing opportunities.

The Royal Tern forages mostly by hovering over water and plunging to catch it's prey just below the water's surface. They feed mostly on small fish and crustaceans, especially crabs. Their nests are very vulnerable due to them being built on the ground and consisting of nothing more than a shallow depression with or without a sparse lining of debris.

Quickly after hatching, groups of Tern chicks assemble into groups called "creches" and are fed by the adults, where which the adults and the chicks recognize each others voices. Breeding for the Royal Terns takes place all along the coasts of the Carolina's and Virginia in the spring and the young along with the adults migrate south for the winter months.

Often, as in the photograph, Royal Terns cluster together on our local beaches in large groups, possibly resting after their migration south in the fall. Please avoid disturbing them and observe from a distance. As cool fronts push onto our Southwest Florida beaches, Terns will point themselves into the winds and stay steadfast on the beach...great photo opportunities for sure. Enjoy the Royal Tern all along our beaches and bays.