Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2005-22

Common name:

Least Tern

Scientific name: Sterna antillarum
Date: 5-20-05
Time: 6:00 PM
Length of time observed: 10 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Location: Salt Marsh Lake
County: Millard
Distance to bird: Within 20 Yards
Optical equipment: 10x42 B&L Elites
Weather: Mostly clear skys
Light Conditions: Good
Description:        Size of bird: Small Tern
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Slender body Long narrow wings
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Mostly white
(Description:)            Bill Type: Straight narrow pointed bill
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
The bill was Yellow with a dark tip. The top of the head was black which also came down onto the nape and through the eye to the bill. The bird had a white patch on the forehead that really
contrasted with the black around it. The throat and the rest of the underparts were white. The back and upersides of the wings were a pale gray except for the leading edge of the primaries that were dark. The tail was short and the the wings were long and slender for the size of the bird. The underside of the wings were grayish a little darker than the rest of the underparts.I didn't pay attention to the color of the legs.  (see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery:  
Behavior: It was flying around about 15 feet above the water looking for fish and it would stop and hover at times then it would dive into the water trying to catch them. The flight was more bouyant looking than most other Terns.
Habitat: Marsh habitat in the desert.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
The small size, flight type along with the yellow bill and white forehead make this tern quite unique from any other tern.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I have watched many Least and other types of Terns along both coasts.
References consulted:  
Description from: Notes made later
Observer: Larry Tripp
Observer's address: 131 N. Butch Cassidy Central, UT 84722
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Lu Giddings
Date prepared: 7-21-05
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: