Stay in the know about wildlife, water quality, and ecosystems on Sanibel and Captiva Islands and in Southwest Florida

Royal Tern 738 is Island Hopping More than Most

October 28, 2020

SCCF Shorebird Biologist Audrey Albrecht recently sighted a young royal tern (Thalasseus maximus) that seems to be island hopping.

She first sighted Royal Tern 738 at Bowman’s Beach on Aug. 5, then again at our SCCF preserve on North Captiva on Sept. 4. Just four days later, 738 was seen by Audubon Florida staff on Treasure Island close to 100 miles north of here. On Oct. 19, Albrecht re-sighted banded Royal Tern 738 back at Bowman’s Beach as pictured here.

Some other banded terns seem to stick around Sanibel more consistently based on SCCF observations. Royal terns do not breed until 3-4 years of age so there are royal terns present on our beaches year-round despite the fact that they do not nest here.

Albrecht also noted a 27-year-old royal tern on her survey work this week.

“I found this tern Friday afternoon between Island Beach Club and Casa Ybel Resort. The oldest known royal tern was 31. I hope this one lives four more years to beat the record,” said Albrecht.

Please email Audrey at with any questions about shorebirds or to report sightings of banded birds.


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