This profile is the second in a series highlighting some of Canada’s migratory species that may be affected by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Roseate Tern is similar in appearance to several other species of tern, with its black cap and long forked tail, but has a distinctive chi-vik or ki-rik call. This species feeds by plunge-diving, dropping into the water from heights of up to 12 metres to catch small fish.
These terns pass through the Gulf of Mexico, heading north in April to breeding sites in Nova Scotia and coastal New England, and south in September to wintering grounds in South America. If oil remains on the water when their fall migration begins, the birds are at risk of becoming oiled and ingesting oil as they try to feed. Even if the surface effects of the spill have been cleaned up, they may still be at risk from eating contaminated fish.
Read more of Nature Canada’s commentary on the Gulf oil spill.