• • •Sandwich Terns are smaller than their larger cousins, the Royal and Caspian terns, and easily identifiable by their shaggy black crest and yellow tip on their thin black bill.
Like other terns, they have a white body, pale gray back and narrow angular wings that support powerful, controlled flight as they soar along the shore in search of small fish, shrimp and squid. Their black cap recedes when not breeding to open up a white forehead. They often congregate in large flocks with other terns where prey are abundant.
They inhabit beaches, bays and mudflats and breed in colonies on sandy islands, in sand dunes and along beaches. They prefer to nest in sand, gravel or mud, making a shallow scrap in the ground far from any vegetation. They lay one to two eggs and, when hatched, the young often gather in large groups known as a creche that is overseen by a few adults – sort of a daycare center.
Sandwich Terns are year-round residents on the Texas Gulf Coast but have an extremely broad range that reaches to the southern Atlantic coast of South America.