Stay Eat Events Weather Beaches

Lovely Little Caspian Tern Returns to Oregon Coast

Published 04/27/21 at 8:35 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Lovely Little Caspian Tern Returns to Oregon Coast

(Seaside, Oregon) – The medium-sized bird that makes a big, colorful impression has returned to the Oregon coast. Seaside Aquarium’s Tiffany Boothe exclaimed with glee Monday: “We saw our first Caspian tern today!” (Photos courtesy Seaside Aquarium / Tiffany Boothe)

Latest Coastal Lodging News Alerts
In Seaside:
Includes exclusive listings; major specials now that winter is here
In Cannon Beach:
Includes rentals not listed anywhere else
In Manzanita, Wheeler, Rockaway Beach:
major specials for winter
In Pacific City, Oceanside:
Winter's enticing specials now
In Lincoln City:
Major winter specials now
In Depoe Bay, Gleneden Beach:
major specials this season
In Newport:
Look for many specials
In Waldport
New amenities offered; specials and tempting prices now
In Yachats, Florence
Big deals available; lodgings not listed anywhere else
Southern Oregon Coast Hotels / Lodgings
Reedsport to Brookings, places to stay; winter deals

It’s migration time for the white and black cuties, who generally reside a ways east of the beaches. The Caspian tern (Hydroprogne caspia) is fairly common on the shores of the Pacific Northwest but it’s still under some state and federal protections in terms of conservation planning.

“These birds are large as a gull, easily identifiable by their black-capped head and large orange bill and are common in bays and estuaries along the coast during spring and fall migrations,” Boothe said. “Smaller numbers of Caspian terns have even been found inland waters during migration including the mid-Columbia River, Willamette River, and Snake Rivers.”

Caspian terns are found along both coastlines of North America. They nest in sandy, flat areas of islands or waterways like bays, rivers or lakes, usually in colonies. Found from Alaska down through Mexico, their largest colony is right here in Oregon in the lower Columbia River Estuary, according to Boothe.

You can spot them along nearshore rivers, bays and beaches anywhere from Gold Beach, Coos Bay, Florence, Waldport to Warrenton and beyond.

“For the last two decades 12,000- 20,000 Caspian terns have taken season residence on East Sand Island in the Columbia River which represents 50-65% of the Caspian tern breeding populations within the Pacific Flyway corridor,” Boothe said.

Photo courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

When on Oregon coast beaches you’ll often see them catching flight as they prepare to dine. Boothe said when they feed on smaller fish they fly over the water, hover for a bit, and then suddenly plunge downward to snag their prey at the waters surface.

“They have been known to steal fish or eggs from other birds for food,” Boothe said.

Breeding colonies have tended to be farther east, beyond the Cascades. These are found along the Columbia River, lakes in southeast Oregon, and Summer Lake in south central Oregon, among other places.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) said most of the colonies in Oregon have a history of intermittent use.

“Once they reach reproductive maturity at five years, mating pairs incubate one to three pale brown/black spotted eggs for approximately twenty two days,” Boothe said. “Young terns stay with parents up to eight months and as a species are able to live past 20 years.”

Also found on the beaches of the Oregon coast these days are whimbrels, Boothe said.

“They are currently taking a break from their migration to feed on the plethora of mole crabs inhabiting our shores,” she said. “Watch them as they probe the sand with their long thin beaks searching out their next meal.”

Oregon Coast Hotels for this event - South Coast Hotels - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours



Below: the whimbrel, Seaside Aquarium

More About Oregon Coast hotels, lodging.....

More About Oregon Coast Restaurants, Dining.....

Coastal Spotlight

LATEST Related Oregon Coast Articles

New Surge in Orca Sightings Over Weekend Good Sign for Oregon Coast Holiday
Chances may be good you'll get to spot some over holiday weekend. Whales, marine sciences
Surprisingly, One Man Connects Oregon Coast Lighthouses at Heceta Head, Terri...
One man, Oswald Allik, served on both the Seaside and Florence-area lights until the end. Cannon Beach, Florence history
Some of the Most Riveting Oregon Coast Views Are Hardest to Find
Outstanding viewpoints along the beaches that you may not know: Depoe Bay, Port Orford, Oceanside, Cannon Beach
2022 Memorial Weekend Travel Advice, Warnings for Oregon Coast
Dealing with traffic, hotels, speed traps, weather
South Oregon Coast's Bandon Holds Special Puffin Viewing Day
Puffin Party celebration at Bandon's Face Rock Wayside on May 28. Bandon events
Central Oregon Coast Artist Exhibits Surreal, Colorful Works at Florence Visi...
Mixed media called encaustics created by Jo Beaudreau. Florence events
Oregon Coast Wildlife Officials: Don't Kidnap Wildlife
It's not just baby seals you'll have to watch out for. Sciences
Oregon Coast Aquarium Celebrates 30 Years This Week
Since 1992, the Aquarium in Newport has been showing off countless oceanic wonders to over two generations. Newport events

Back to Oregon Coast

Contact Advertise on
All Content, unless otherwise attributed, copyright Unauthorized use or publication is not permitted