Sooty Tern: Medium-sized tern with long wings, deeply forked tail, black crown, nape, and upperparts, and a broad triangular white forehead patch. Underparts are white; upper tail is black with white outer edges. Direct flight with strong, shallow wing beats. Hovers before dipping for prey.
Range and Habitat
Sooty Tern: Largely pelagic, comes ashore only to breed. Breeding colony on Dry Tortugas, Florida. Florida breeding population spends most of its nonbreeding time off West Africa. Also nests on islets off Louisiana and Texas. Regular (nonbreeding) in summer north to North Carolina.
The Sooty Tern is also known as the Wideawake Tern or just wideawake. This refers to the incessant calls produced by a colony of these birds.
On Easter Island, this species and the Grey-backed Tern are collectively known as manutara. The manutara played an important role in the tangata manu ("birdman") ritual.
Whomever's hopu (champion) could retrieve the first manutara egg from Motu Nui islet would become that year's tangata manu; his clan would receive prime access to resources, especially seabird eggs.
A group of terns are collectively known as a "ternery" or a "U" of terns.