Two "Elegant-type" Terns at Bowman's Beach, Sanibel recently
I’ve seen photos and have consulted with someone that has studied the Elegant-type Terns that have been seen and photographed from the Tampa Bay thru Sarasota areas over the past number of years, and they agree that the terns in the photos are definitely of this type, but very difficult to say at this point whether or not either individual is a pure Elegant Tern, or also a hybrid Elegant x Sandwich Tern. There has been documentation of the two species breeding in a Sandwich Tern colony up in Pinellas County in the not too distant past. They are similar to Royal Terns, but closer to Sandwich Terns (with whom they have been seen with) in size. The bills are narrower than that of a Royal Tern, but of similar color. One of the individuals has a longer shaggy crest than the other, as seen in an adult’s breeding plumage. Just an FYI to be on the look-out if you are out on the area’s beaches, and more photos would be a help in this matter!
Cape Coral, FL