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Arctic Terns Select their Mates at Potter Marsh

And it all begins with food....

Did food play a role in your courtship? Well, Arctic Terns share a food-related ritual. Early in the breeding season, a female Arctic Tern perches near a possible nesting site. The male appears carrying a small fish in its bill. The female pauses for a few minutes to “check him out” before she accepts the fish offering, which she consumes whole. Once nesting begins, he brings the fish to her on the ground. Later when the young hatch, both parents busily deliver food to the nestlings.
One easy place to watch terns and their courtship is Potter Marsh, a freshwater, coastal wetland just seven miles from Anchorage, Alaska.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Potter Marsh - Arctic Terns Select their Mates
A Food-related Ritual

Written by Frances Wood

This is BirdNote!
[Selection from “I’m hungry for your love!” sung by Van Morrison]
Did food play a role in your courtship? Perhaps a box of chocolate or a favorite pizza?
Well, Arctic Terns share a food-related ritual. Slim, agile, white birds with black caps and red legs, these birds typically breed in remote areas of the far north. However, one easy place to watch terns and their courtship is Potter Marsh, a freshwater, coastal wetland just seven miles from Anchorage, Alaska.
[Arctic Terns’ “advertising call”]
Early in the breeding season, a female Arctic Tern perches near a possible nesting site, a small grassy tuft of an island. The male appears carrying a small fish in its bill. The female pauses for a few minutes to “check him out” before she accepts the fish offering, which she consumes whole.
During the first days of their honeymoon, the pair also performs an aerial display in which the male gives fish to his mate. Once nesting begins, he brings the fish to her on the ground.
[Artic Tern male has delivered a fish]
Later when the young hatch, both parents busily deliver food to the nestlings.
As with us humans, a romantic date can progress into a noisy, busy family mealtime.
[Sounds of noisy Arctic Tern colony]
For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann, inviting you to see photos of the terns and Potter Marsh, on our website, birdnote.org.
###

Selection from “I’m Hungry for Your Love” by Van Morrison, from the album The Movie Hits, EMI 2007.
Sounds of the birds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Arctic Tern “advertising call” 138235 recorded by G.Vyn; Arctic Tern pair 137558 recorded by G.Vyn; Arctic Tern colony 3833 recorded by A.A. Allen.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2012 Tune In to Nature.org     August 2012   Narrator: Mary McCann

ID#             ARTE-03b-2012-08-06    

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