Arctic Tern

The arctic tern inhabits the coastal waters, lakes, and marshlands of the northern parts of Europe, Asia, and North America. It is a medium-gray color with a black cap and nape. It is pale underneath and has a bright red bill. The arctic tern has short legs and a long, forked tail.

What is truly amazing about the arctic tern is its migratory route. Every year it travels up to 24,000 miles (38,400 km) to winter at the Antarctic Ocean and then return to its nesting grounds.

This bird nests in colonies between May and July near the water on a sandy patch of ground. They often pick deserted islands for their nesting sites. The female lays two eggs, which are incubated by both parents for about 20 to 22 days. The hatchlings can swim within two days and can fly in about 20 days. Both parents continue feeding them even after they have left the nest.

At the end of the summer, the young tern knows what direction, how far, and at what time he needs to start the migratory trip. God has placed in the arctic tern a very wonderful guidance system that leaves man marveling.

The arctic tern feeds mainly on fish. It flies low over the water with its head down looking for prey. When it locates a fish, it plucks it out of the water or half-dives after it. It can swim, but not for long periods at a time. It also eats mollusks and insects.

Arctic Tern

Charadriiformes • Laridae • Sterna paradisaea

Weight: 4-1/4 ounces (119 grams)
Length: 14-1/2inches (36 cm)
Life Span: Oldest known 3-4 years
Special Design Feature: The arctic tern was created with exceptional migratory instincts taking it on a journey from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back every year.
Did You Know? The migratory route of the arctic tern is approximately 24,000 miles (38,400 km) round trip every year and it probably sees more daylight in its lifetime than any other animal.

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