[Tweeters] lack of Common Terns - why?

Stewart Wechsler ecostewart at quidnunc.net
Tue Oct 27 14:58:29 PDT 2009

While I was somewhat familiar with "Common" Tern - Sterna hirundo - summer
habitat on the east coast 40 years ago, I don't know much about the summer
and winter habitats on the west coast. Does anyone have any theories about
causes of the decline of "Common" Terns here? Due to its increasing rarity,
we may have to revert to a literal translation of the scientific name in
this case and start calling it the "Swallow Tern".

I hate the name "common" for any organism - a very inappropriate name for an
organism that has become rare, or when talking about the species in a part
of its range, especially the edge of its range, where it is rare. If I was
the naming czar I would ban this and human names as species names and first
halves of "common" names.


Stewart Wechsler
-Ecological Consultant - Nature Guide
Naturalist - Botanist
206 932-7225
ecostewart at quidnunc.net
-Advice on the most site-appropriate native plants to maximize the site's
potential for native biodiversity
-Educational programs, nature walks, and field trips for schools, public and
private groups
-Botanical Surveys

Enjoying nature isn't enough, we must steward it in one way or another to
pay it back for our enjoyment.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Eugene and Nancy Hunn"
To: "'Gary Bletsch'"
"'tweeters tweeters'" Sent: Monday, October 26, 2009 9:16 PM
Subject: RE: [Tweeters] lack of Common Terns


I the late 1970s and early 1980s Common Terns were common in fall migration
in Shilshole Bay and off West Point. My 1982 bar graphs in _Birding Seattle
and King County_ show a pulse mid-August through September when they were
common, uncommon from late July until late October. Things have changed
radically for Common Terns here since then.

Gene Hunn
Lake Forest Park, WA
enhunn323 at comcast.net

-----Original Message-----

On Behalf Of Gary
Sent: Monday, October 26, 2009 8:45 PM

Dear Tweeters,

The drop-off in Common Tern numbers is quite evident in Skagit County. I
used to find them along the coast here about once or twice a year. Last
year, I found none in salt water habitats, but did see a small flock one day
(four birds, I think) on the Skagit River at Lyman.

This year, I have not found any Common Terns at all, although I made
repeated trips in August, September, and October, specifically in search of
Common Terns and Parasitic Jaegers.

Bonaparte's Gulls are also much reduced here; most of my sightings this
year, for example, refer to singles or five to ten birds.

Yours truly,

Gary Bletsch Near Lyman, Washington (Skagit County), USA
garybletsch at yahoo.com

Tweeters mailing list
Tweeters at u.washington.edu

More information about the Tweeters mailing list