Aleutian Tern: A medium tern, with white forehead, black cap, bill, and legs, gray under and upperparts, white rump and tail. Undertail coverts, cheeks, and area below cap are white. Wing projects beyond tip of tail at rest. Strong direct flight with deep wing beats, often high above water.
Range and Habitat
Aleutian Tern: This bird breeds in coastal areas of southern and western Alaska, along coast of Chukchi Sea, on Seward Peninsula, along Alaska Peninsula, in widely scattered locations in Aleutian Islands, in Kodiak Archipelago, on Kenai Peninsula and Copper River delta, and along Gulf of Alaska. Breeding colonies found on vegetated islands, dwarf-shrub tundra, grass and sedge meadows.
The Aleutian tern was first discovered on Kodiak Island and was named with the expectation that it would be found breeding in the Aleutians. It wasn't until years later that this theory was proven correct.
They usually nests among Arctic Terns, who are known to be defensive of their nests. The Aleutians are able to take advantage of this behavior, and make no attempt to defend their own nests.
They were once thought to be rare, but studies have documented more birds in recent years. Latest population estimates put their numbers at about 10,000.
A group of terns are collectively known as a "ternery" or a "U" of terns.