Date: 8/12/17 8:39 am
From: Geoff Malosh <pomarine...>
Subject: White-winged Tern photos and info
I uploaded some nice photos of the White-winged Tern at Nessmuk Lake from
yesterday evening to flickr here:

and a few additional photos are in my eBird checklist (and dozens of other

As has been mentioned this is the first Pennsylvania record, but one that is
probably overdue. They breed across central Eurasia and winter in Africa,
se. Asia, and Australia, and has occurred a number of times in eastern North
America primarily in mid-Atlantic states. There are several records in our
immediate vicinity, including birds in Ontario, New York, Delaware, and New
Jersey at least, as well as Virginia and a few other states north and south.
They are much rarer west, with a handful of records in Alaska and California
and a few other interior sites, suggesting that most birds that arrive here
in North America are originating from the European/African side of their
range. But they were formerly more frequent, and North American records have
declined noticeably since the 1990s, and nearly all North American records
are from about May to September. There are two records of White-winged Tern
hybridizing with Black Tern in North America, at Saint-Gedeon, Quebec 1985
and 1986, and at Watertown, New York 1992. Hybrid White-winged x Black Tern
pairs are also known in Europe (where a different subspecies of Black Tern
is native).

As for Nessmuk Lake bird feeding, like other "marsh terns" including Black
Tern, insects are a significant portion of this species' diet, and they are
not known for plunge-diving, but rather when taking fish they tend to just
skim small prey off the surface of the water. In nearly three hours of
observation yesterday evening, we didn't see the bird attempt to take a
fish, but after the rain showers stopped, it frequently sallied out to catch
bugs on the wing, and could be seen looking around randomly while it was
perched, presumably watching insects nearby. It did seem lethargic at times
but hopefully isn't in any real trouble health wise. It preened frequently
and had no trouble in flight.

Good birding,


Geoff Malosh

Allegheny County

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