Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2005-11b

Common name:

Least Tern

Scientific name: Sterna antillarum
Date: 12 May 2005
Time: ~ 11:30 A.M.
Length of time observed: 15 Minutes
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Location: Utah Lake State Park, Provo
County: Utah
Elevation: 4,600 feet
Distance to bird: ~ 250 feet
Optical equipment: 8 x 42 binoculars and a Kowa 20-60x 80 Scope
Weather: Partly cloudy and fairly warm
Light Conditions: good but not bright
Description:        Size of bird: About Killdeer size
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Slender with long pointed wings, forked tail and and long bill
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: White underneath, light gray above with a black cap
(Description:)            Bill Type: Long, slender and sharp
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
The head had a black cap the extended down the nape and forward only to the forehead with a white triangle between the bill and both eyes.  There were black stripes from each eye to the bill.
The bill was mainly yellow with a black tip and some black at the base. 
The tail was white and fairly deeply forked.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: None
Behavior: The bird flew by us and landed on a log near a near the shore.  It stayed on the log until we left.
Habitat: Lake
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Forster's Tern:  This turn had a complete black cap except for a white triangle on the forehead unlike the Forster's.  It was also much smaller.  (We observed both a Forster's Tern and a Caspian Tern from the same location -- there were three distinct sizes).

Common Tern:  The bill was definitely yellow and not red and the belly was very white instead of gray as with the Common Tern.

Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I've seen the Least Tern several times in Utah.
References consulted: Sibley's Guides (the big one and the western guide)
Description from: memory and from the photos I took
Observer: Milt Moody
Observer's address: 2795 Indian Hills Drive, Provo, UT  84604
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Reed Stone initially found the bird in the morning.  Eric Huish and I found the bird and showed it to Bonnie and Stan Williams when they arrived.
Date prepared: 15 May 2005
Additional material: Photos  [by Eric Huish and Milt Moody]
Additional comments: