Whiskered Tern…3rd North American record!!!

I thought I was done blogging after I saw my magic #700…an Aleutian Tern in Alaska last May. But I cannot resist sharing this with you, before you read about it in The New York Times.

Late yesterday afternoon I was dutifully at my computer reading and responding to e-mails, when my pulse quickened upon seeing the latest NARBA (refresher: North American Rare Bird Alert) post. Cape May, NJ had just reported a WHISKERED TERN! Common in Africa, this bird has been seen only twice before (1993 & 1998…I was living in Ohio and England those dates) in North America…both times at Cape May. It is so rare that neither my I-phone’s bird app nor the Sibley Bird Guide contain an entry for it.

Admittedly, I have been pretty content reveling in the satisfaction of last May’s trip to the Pribilofs, where I actually reached 702 North American lifetime birds. I had passed up several opportunities this summer to hop an airplane and try to see another “new one”. But this CODE 5 was almost in my backyard! I was off….but not until this morning. I took a calculated risk that this MEGA-rarity would hang around a few days like the two previous ones.

Within seconds of reaching the Cape May hawk watch platform, I spotted the bird, as well as several birders from my past; including the Cornell student I met two years ago in the Pacific Ocean (Half Moon Bay pelagic). He had taken a 3am bus from Ithaca to Bergen County and convinced his non-birding parents to drive the four hours to Cape May. I was pleased to show them the distant tern, acting like a swallow, catching insects off the surface of the pond. #703 is in the books…..#750 doesn’t seem that far away.

Whiskered Tern (Cape May Pt, over Bunker Pond)

Whiskered Tern (Cape May Pt, over Bunker Pond)

About George C. Wood

A birder since age ten, but not necessarily an avid "lister", I am closing in on 700 (*800!) species seen in North America.....hoping to capture each sighting with my camera.
This entry was posted in Quest for 700 (*800!). Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Whiskered Tern…3rd North American record!!!

  1. Joe Knowles says:

    A beauty, George — congrats! Do you have an explanation for why this seemingly sudden appearance?

  2. Rick Warden says:

    Just can’t keep a good Birdman down !!!!

  3. Rich Cimino says:

    You’re a great motivation to your family, friends and professional birders such as myself. You have so much positive energy – don’t lose it. I use our 6MA birding chase to find you the Mountain Quail (698?) in the Mayacanmus Mountains in northern California. I don’t tell anyone about the 1 AM Black Rail chase – that is our secret.

  4. Sean Butterfield Scanlon says:

    George – that is awesome. And let’s plan to talk late this week if you have some time . Who was the student? Sean

    Sent from my iPhone

  5. David Simpson says:

    There’s nobody like George!!!!

  6. Tom Mason says:

    Amazing bird, way to go,, George.

  7. Thks for yr e-mail….helped me switch gears from work to Bird-mode.

  8. chasscrew says:

    Awesome!! abs

    Anne B. Standish abstandish@aol.com

  9. Nina says:

    750 … Do it! Love xo Me

  10. Henry Maguire says:

    Well done


    Sent from my iPhone


  11. Ziesing, Peter R says:

    George – keep it up – do I hear 750? Best, Zies

  12. juliezickefoose says:

    The flame flickers but it will not die. How good of the birding gods to send this tern so close to you! I enjoy your writing and remember fondly our North Dakota Big Day!

  13. Dan Miller says:

    Way to go GW!

  14. Jim Buck says:

    Birds native to Africa being sighted in Cape May, NJ. Speculate away (and dismiss over-speculation due to two earlier sightings), but that’s one UNUSUAL solo migration pattern there. Of course, it takes one to know one, Woody, and you’ve had some pretty “unusual solo migrations” these past number of years on your way to these milestones, haven’t you? Congratulations!

  15. Haden Gerrish says:

    Great to have you blogging again. Look forward to more entries!

  16. Thanks for writing Jimbo! The explanation(s) as to how/why this guy ended up over will be interesting!

  17. Jeffrey Dingle says:

    The early George gets the bird!

    – Ffej

    Sent from myPhone


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