Roseate Terns on Cockroach Island



Sterna dougallii

This tern is about 15” and is white below with a pink breast, black bill except in breeding season when it it is red or orange, with a deeply forked tail. Its back, wings and tail are brownish grey. 

In summer the Roseate Tern inhabits inhabits rocky coastal regions on offshore islands, such as here where I have shown a pair on uninhabited Cockroach Island, the most westerly of the Dog Islands. Incidentally, this group of uninhabited islands was so named by Sir Francis Drake because he thought he heard numerous dogs barking as he approached it. In fact it would have been the sound of the monk seals which used to populate the area before they became extinct in this region.

The terns nest in colonies, laying 1 to 5 spotted or streaked eggs in the scraped depressions which serves for their nests. Their voice is a rasping ‘trek’ or sometimes  a plover-like ‘hew-it’.

The Roseates are a declining species though they appear to be thriving on Cockroach Island.