Least Tern

The Least Tern is a small, agile bird found along the coasts and inland waterways of North America. Here’s everything you need to know about this remarkable species.

Basic Description

The Least Tern measures only 8-9 inches in length, making it one of the smallest terns in North America. It has a distinctive black cap and white forehead that extends back to its nape. Its upperparts are pale grey, while its underparts are white. During breeding season, the bill turns bright yellow with a black tip.

Where To Find This Bird

The Least Tern is primarily found along coastal areas and near estuaries and other bodies of water such as ponds or lakes. They can be seen from southern Canada down through Mexico and Central America during migration periods.


Least Terns prefer sandy or gravelly beaches for nesting purposes but will also use salt flats, sandbars, or even rooftops as nesting sites if those locations are available. The birds usually nest in colonies with dozens to hundreds of pairs in large open spaces without much vegetation around them.


These birds feed on small fish such as minnows or anchovies caught by diving into shallow waters headfirst; they may also take insects flying over the water surface.

Cool Facts

One fascinating fact about Least Terns is that they’re known for their “broken wing” display when defending their nests against predators like gulls – an act where they feign injury to lure predators away from their young.
Another interesting aspect about these birds is their unique mating ritual: males present fish gifts to females before copulation—sometimes stolen right out of another bird’s mouth!
Least tern populations have faced threats due to habitat loss caused by beach development projects like marinas and ports, and as a result, these birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

In conclusion, the Least Tern is a magnificent bird that deserves our admiration. These little creatures showcase incredible intelligence and resilience in their behavior while facing various threats to their survival. We can help protect them by supporting conservation efforts so that future generations can enjoy their beauty and wonder for years to come.