The lovely Arctic Tern holds a unique distinction within the animal kingdom. This seabird ranks as the most highly migratory of any known species, and in fact, spends the majority of its life in the air.
Their migration patterns show a high degree of convolution, generating enormous distances traveled. As they relocate south for the summer, some individuals actually experience two of them each year.
The average distance covered per year approaches 44,100 m (70,900 km). They spend so much time in the air that they rarely appear on land, other than during their mating season.
The IUCN considers the Arctic Tern a species of Least Concern. Estimates place the global population of this bird at more than 1 million individuals.
Arctic Tern Physical Description
The impressive Arctic Tern is a medium-sized seabird and has a body length averaging nearly 15 in (39 cm). A typical wingspan for this species is approximately 30 in (75 cm).
In coloring, the plumage of the adults is typically a combination of white and gray. The upper wing is gray with a white edge, and a dark black crown shows on the top of the head, as well. Both the feet and beak are generally a reddish orange in color, and also webbed in form.
The tail is deeply forked in design. Uniquely, and interestingly, juveniles present a different coloring of their feet and bill. Among the juveniles, these are typically black in color.
They also display no noticeable degree of sexual dimorphism.
Arctic Tern Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Mating and nesting take place in a colony setting. They commonly construct nests in rugged and remote areas, which has benefits for protecting their young. Both genders care for the young and protect the nest, often fiercely.
The avian has a carnivorous nature, with their primary prey consisting of a variety of small fish and crustaceans. Their natural predators include felines and other indigenous animals, while nesting.
This species also has a lifespan of as much as 30 years.