|Onychoprion aleuticus||Order: Charadriiformes||Family: Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)|
This beautiful little Tern is under-studied, especially considering that its numbers are dropping steeply. Its winter migratory range was completely unknown until the late 1980s; now we know that many spend the winter near the Equator in the western Pacific. The wide-ranging coastal colonies are found only in Alaska and eastern Siberia, but in neither place are populations monitored, even though both are thought to be in significant decline.
The Aleutian Tern is frequently associated with the Arctic Tern; adults are easily told apart in the breeding season by the Aleutian’s white forehead and black bill, legs, and feet; adult Arctic Terns’ caps are black from the bill through the head and their bill, exceedingly short legs, and feet are bold red. (Once Arctic Tern chicks are fledged, they can be confused with Aleutians because they have a white forehead.)