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Kidadl Team

SEPTEMBER 09, 2021

Interior Least Tern: 21 Facts You Won't Believe!

Interior least tern facts talk about how they are found in Texas and Mississippi.

Are you interested to know more about species like the glaucous gull? If yes, then you should keep reading, as we are about to discuss the interior least tern (Sternula antillarum athalassos). Yes, this is a subspecies of the least tern (Sternula antillarum), a commonly found white tern species of North America. However, by the presence of the interior in this bird's name, you can understand that it dwells in an interior habitat which is usually in the major river systems of the United States. You can find the interior least terns in the U.S. states of Missouri, Mississippi, New Mexico, Texas, to name a few.

You can find the nesting habitat of this species in sparsely vegetated sandbars or gravel covered sandy areas near rivers. This bird lays around one to two eggs every year. When it comes to its appearance, the bird is covered in black and white plumage with a distinct yellow bill, and the chicks are covered in gray white down. As we have said before, this is an endangered and threatened subspecies of terns, and it still has sparse population distribution, which is under constant monitoring.

Interior Least Tern Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an interior least tern?

The interior least tern is an endangered subspecies of the least terns that inhabit the major river systems of the United States and in South and Central America.

What class of animal does an interior least tern belong to?

The interior least tern belongs to the class Aves and to the genus Sternula. It also belongs to the Laridae family that contains Caspian tern.

How many interior least terns are there in the world?

According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, there are around 18,000 birds of this endangered species. It is much better than the initial count of its populations, and the recovery is under constant monitoring.

Where does an interior least tern live?

This is a primarily North American bird, but it can also be found breeding in Central America and South America. However, a major chunk of its population is present in the United States and inhabits the river channels of New Mexico, Mississippi, Texas, Missouri, and other states. During the winter months, it travels to northern South America from areas like Texas.

What is an interior least tern's habitat?

Unlike the parent species, the interior least tern habitat is in the interior parts rather than near coastal regions. This bird is found near major river systems of the U.S., as well as in Central and South America. It also prefers to make nests in a nesting habitat that is sandy and covered in gravel.

Who do interior least terns live with?

You can often find the interior least terns hunting for fishes in flocks, and these birds even share their nesting habitat with the colonies. During the mating period, these birds can be seen with its mate.

How long does an interior least tern live?

Just like the least terns, these birds manage to have a lifespan range of around 15-20 years.

How do they reproduce?

Similar to least terns, the interior population is also monogamous in nature, and it is quite serious about the nesting areas. These birds are mainly found around the Missouri, Red, Arkansas, and Ohio rivers. Once, it was believed that construction works near the breeding range had wiped it away from the summer nesting range. However, due to conservation, populations have been rising.

The nests can also be made on beaches of rivers so that the bird can easily catch fish. These days, the birds make nests on sandbars or salt flats that are sparsely vegetated or free from plants and covered in gravel. Around one to two eggs are laid by this species, just like the least tern. The spotted eggs are beautiful, and both parents take care of the nest as well as the young chicks when it's hatched. A colony of birds can also be found at the same spot during the breeding season, and the same nesting habitat of a colony can be used over and over during the breeding season for making nests.

What is their conservation status?

The parent bird species of Least Tern is classified under the status of Least Concern in The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. However, the subspecies of interior least terns are yet to make it to any prominent conservation lists. But, owing to the small population, the birds have been termed as an endangered species, but because of monitoring, the population is on its path to a considerable recovery.

Interior Least Tern Fun Facts 

What do interior least terns look like?

Before describing the look of this species, we would like you to note that the only difference present in the debate of interior least tern versus least tern (Sternula antillarum) is only geographical. It's very hard to distinguish the subspecies based only on look.

Now, coming to the look of the interior least terns, it is similar to the parent species and is mostly noted for the yellow bill. These birds have webbed feet to easily traverse water and beaches. Moreover, there is a black path on the head, and the wings are gray with a white underside and a little bit black on the sides. Other than that, the body of these birds is covered with white feathers. However, the chicks are usually covered in a gray-white down.

Interior least tern facts help to know about endangered species.

How cute are they?

Yes, the interior least terns are quite cute, especially because of their white feathers, just like the white hawk.

How do they communicate?

One of the interesting things about least tern birds is the calls. The most common call is the Purrit-tit-tit, and these intelligent birds can distinguish between the calls of their mate and that of a stranger. Sounds are an important form of communication for these birds as it helps to communicate with each other and also the newborn chicks.

How big is an interior least tern?

The average interior least tern range of body length is around 8.3-9.1 in (21-23 cm). It is said to be the smallest tern bird, and the size is similar to that of the least tern. Compared to it, the western wood pewee measures around 5.5-6.3 in (14-16 cm).

How fast can an interior least tern fly?

We don't know the exact flight speed of this species, but it is a skilled flier, especially while flying over water bodies like rivers. It flies close to the water and plunges with its bill to catch small fish.

How much does an interior least tern weigh?

The average interior least tern weight is around 1.4–1.8 oz (39–52 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no separate names for the males and females of this bird.

What would you call a baby interior least tern?

The baby of an interior least tern is called a chick.

What do they eat?

The interior least tern diet consists mainly of small fish usually caught from the rivers. These birds can even hunt in lakes and rivers.

Are they dangerous?

No, these aren't dangerous birds. However, it can get quite aggressive if someone comes near the nesting areas.

Would they make a good pet?

No, as an endangered species, you cannot find these interior least terns as your pet.

Did you know...

It's said that one of the reasons for these birds being endangered is because of the construction of reservoirs, dams, dikes, and water diversions of river channels which have destroyed the usual nesting habitat for the bird where the colony used to make nests.

Formerly, the least tern was classified as the Sterna antillarum, but it has been changed to Sternula antillarum instead of the Sterna antillarum.

Why is the least tern important?

The least tern, in general, is important because it's a crucial bird for the ecosystem, especially in the coastal areas. However, this interior population of least tern is more crucial as it's an Endangered species. Recently, conservation of the interior least tern endangered species has led to a slight increase and recovery in its population distribution, and this can help to revive the ecosystem in its habitat.

Interior least terns migration

The interior least terns migrate to the inland river systems of the United States where breeding takes place, and this bird spends its winter months near the coast of Central America and on the northern coast of South America.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these little tern facts and Arctic tern facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Artic tern coloring pages.

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