[Mystery bird] Royal Tern, Sterna maxima, photographed at Quintana and Bryan Beaches, Texas. [I will identify this bird for you tomorrow]
Image: Joseph Kennedy, 3 September 2008 [larger view].
Nikon D200, Kowa 883 telescope TSN-PZ camera eyepiece 1/2000s f/8.0 at 1000.0mm iso400.
Rick Wright, Managing Director of WINGS Birding Tours Worldwide, writes:
Bring that recent ruffian of a Caspian Tern back up on your screen, and turn everything we said about that bird into its opposite. Here’s a slender, graceful-footed, pale-headed bird, far less threatening in every way than its larger, meaner cousin. The stout, pale-tipped bill, the short haircut, and the pale upperparts make this one another Royal Tern. Elegant Tern would have a longer, finer bill, with a much less prominent gonydeal angle and a longer crest.
This individual is a juvenile molting into first-winter plumage, still showing dark-centered tertials and a dark carpal bar.