American Birding Podcast



#ABArare – White-winged Tern – Massachusetts

On May 8, Peter Flood photographed a stunning adult alternate plumage White-winged Tern (ABA Code 4) at Race Point on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The bird made a close pass and Peter was able to get some excellent photos, at which point it disappeared. It was found later the same day at Hatches Harbor nearby where it associated with a large tern flock there. It was not seen the next day but could still be in the area.

Hatches Harbor is just about the farthest possible point on Cape Cod jut over 2 hours from. Flood reports that anywhere in the Race Point area is productive and the bird is likely in among flocks of gulls and terns there.

There are a number of White-winged Tern records in the ABA Area from both coast. In the east, there are 20-30 records from Quebec to as far south as South Carolina. In Rare Birds of North America, Howell et al speculate that birds seen on the east coast may be joining overwintering Black or Common Terns in South America and moving north with them in their second summer. They point to the relative lack of records from the southeast United States and Iceland.

In addition to the east coast records, there are a number of additional accounts of the species in Alaska, California, and the interior of the continent.