Two hybrid common x roseate terns fledge at Falkner Island, Connecticut

The Connecticut Warbler
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Although these two similarly-sized species are sympatric throughout much of their breeding range, there are few published records of hybridization between Roseate (Sterna dougallii) and Common (S. hirundo) Terns. Records include at least five from Europe (Witherby and Ticehurst 1908, Perry 1972, Robbins 1974, Burggraeve 1977, van den Berg 1980) and only one from North America (Hays 1975), but we are aware of several unpublished records of hybridization at colonies in Massachusetts (I. Nisbet, pers. comm.) and New York (J. Burger, pers. comm.). Differences in sexual display probably serve as the principal barrier to hybridization (Palmer 1941 ), and in the northeastem United States where both species breed, Common Terns tend to nest in more open areas while Roseate Terns tend to nest in or under cover (Hays 1975, Nisbet 1981, Spendelow 1982, Burger and Gochfeld 1988).

From 1984 through 1993, we recorded several instances of interbreeding in a mixed colony of several thousand Common Terns and a few hundred Roseates at the Falkner Island Unit of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge. This 2-ha island is located at 41 °13'N and 72° 39'W in Long Island Sound, approximately 5 km off the coast of Guilford, Connecticut. Spendelow (1982) briefly described the island and the areas used by the nesting terns; a more detailed description of the island is in Helander (1988). The mixed pair we observed in 1993 nested in a subcolony of about 25 pairs of Roseates on the southeast section of the island's rocky beach, where we put out 30 boxes to create more protected nest sites for Roseate Terns. Here we present a summary of their successful nesting, which we followed almost daily from several days prior to the laying of the first egg until departure of these birds from the colony site.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Two hybrid common x roseate terns fledge at Falkner Island, Connecticut
Series title The Connecticut Warbler
Volume 14
Issue 2
Year Published 1994
Language English
Publisher Connecticut Ornithological Association
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description 6 p.
First page 50
Last page 55
Country United States
State Connecticut
Other Geospatial Falkner Island, Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge
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