Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2013-36

Common name:

Least Tern

Scientific name: Sternula antillarum
Date: 5/6/13
Time: 5:50 PM
Length of time observed: 5 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Sex: Unknown
Location: Pioneer Crossing Ponds. North side of Pioneer Crossing at mile marker 1 in Lehi, UT
Elevation: ~4500'
Distance to bird: 20-100 yards
Optical equipment: Cabela XT 8x42 binoculars and Nikon D5000 DSLR with 300mm f4 Nikon lens at 1.4x converter
Weather: Cloudy, somewhat humid. A light rain fell for a moment.
Light Conditions: Overcast
Description:        Size of bird: Slightly larger than the nearby barn swallows. Smaller than a forster's tern.
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Bulky chest, very tapered to the short forked tail. Slender pointed wings.
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Black crown, white forehead, yellow bill, yellowish feet, two dark primary feathers. Light gray upper wing, all white underside. White tail.
(Description:)            Bill Type: Thin with a sharp tip.
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
See overall color pattern described above. The bird hovered and dove into the small pond.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: No call made during observation
Behavior: Circling and hovering over the pond. Dove into the pond to retrieve a small fish.
Habitat: Fresh water pond.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Tail was shorter than forsters, bill was yellow rather than orange like Caspian and Forsters adults. White forehead not seen on adult Caspian and Forsters. Legs were yellowish rather than orange like forster's and black like caspian. The two black primaries on this bird are not seen on breeding caspian and forster's terns.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Saw some in Mexico two years ago.
References consulted: Sibley's Guide.
Description from: Notes taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Jeff Cooper
Observer's address: 3499 N 1270 W in Pleasant Grove, UT 84062
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird:  
Date prepared: 5/6/13
Additional material: Photos
Additional_Comments: Photos emailed to Milt Moody.