How Old is that Least Tern Chick? Part I « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

How Old is that Least Tern Chick? Part I

What’s Up?

The Royal Tern/Laughing Gull/Brown Pelican rookery near Jacksonville was breathtakingly amazing. The beach is gorgeous, and there are an estimated 10,000 pairs of nesting birds in the protected dunes. With clear blue skies and a stiff onshore wind from the east (wind against sun …), photography was very difficult at best.

With the same forecast for this morning — 27 June 2021, I told everyone to bring extra cards and lots of batteries. We are gonna kill ’em for sure. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day

This blog post took about an hour to prepare and makes 183 consecutive days with a new one. Please remember that if an item — a Delkin flash card, or a tripod head — for example, that is available from B&H and/or Bedfords and is also available in the BAA Online Store, it would be great if you opt to purchase from us. We will match any price. Please remember also to use my B&H affiliate links or to save 3% at Bedfords by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout. Doing either often earns you free guides and/or discounts. And doing so always earns my great appreciation.

Please Remember

With income from IPTs now close to zero, please, if you enjoy and learn from the blog, remember to use one of my two affiliate programs when purchasing new gear. Doing so just might make it possible for me to avoid having to try to get a job as a Walmart greeter and will not cost you a single penny more. And if you use Bedfords and remember to enter the BIRDSASART code at checkout, you will save 3% on every order and enjoy free second-day air shipping. In these crazy times — I am out at least forty to sixty thousand dollars so far due to COVID 19 (with lots more to come) — remembering to use my B&H link or to shop at Bedfords will help me out a ton and be greatly appreciated. Overseas folks who cannot order from the US because of import fees, duties, and taxes, are invited to help out by clicking here to leave a blog thank you gift if they see fit.

New and Better Bedfords Discount Policy!

You can now save 3% on all of your Bedfords photo gear purchases by entering the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout. Your discount will be applied to your pre-tax total. In addition, by using the code you will get 2nd day air shipping via Fed Ex.

Grab a Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III and save $14.99. Purchase a Canon EOS R5 and your discount will be $116.97. Purchase a Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and save a remarkable $389.94! Your Bedford’s purchase no longer needs to be greater than $1,000.00 for you to receive a discount. The more you spend, the more you save.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would enjoy free second-day air shipping, your best bet is to click here, place an order with Bedfords, and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If an item is out of stock, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell phone at (479) 381-2592 (Central time). Be sure to mention the BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order to save 3% and enjoy free 2nd-day air shipping. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H and everywhere else. The wait lists at the big stores can be a year or longer for the hard to get items. Steve will surely get you your gear long before that. For the past year, he has been helping BAA Blog folks get their hands on items like the SONY a9 ii, the SONY 200-600 G OSS lens, the Canon EOS R5, the Canon RF 100-500mm lens, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is personable, helpful, and eager to please.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs (remember those?) and dozens of photographers whom I see in the field and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail

This image was created on 14 June 2021 on a beach in Southeast Florida. Standing at full height, I used the Induro GIT 304L/ Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted-Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 1600. Exposure determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/2000 sec. at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 8:20am on a cloudy morning.

Wide/AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed very well by nailing tern’s cap. As this is another healthy crop, about, the depth-of-field was provided by the distance to the subject. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Least Tern chick about three days old with sibling

Tiny Little Ones

These two little chicks on a big beach are about three days old. They were in their eggs for about 21 days and will be starting to fly when they are about three weeks old. Tern chicks are precocious: within an hour of hatching, their feathers are dry and their eyes are open; they are capable of staggering a short distance away from the nest. They leave the nest scrape at about two days old. The coloring is cryptic. The birds are well camouflaged when they flatten themselves on the beach in the face of danger.

This image was created on 14 June 2021 on a beach in Southeast Florida. Standing at full height, I used the Induro GIT 304L/ Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted-Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only). ISO 1600. The exposure was determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/640 sec. at f/8 (wide open) in Manual mode. RawDigger showed this exposure to be perfect. AWB at 7:52am on an overcast morning.

Wide/AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed perfectly. Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Image #2: Least Tern about 7-10 days old

Growing Quickly!

The tiny chicks grow very rapidly, approximately doubling their weight by day four and tripling it when they are six days old. This bird probably weight about 25 grams (less than a single ounce!)


With all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors.

2 comments to How Old is that Least Tern Chick? Part I

  • avatar Adam

    It sounds like a fantastic time though weather is always one of those unpredictable variables. Hopefully, the folks around there are more responsible than the knuckleheads out west who destroyed thousands of nests with their drones. Lovely shots.

  • avatar Pat Fishburne

    Love the little least tern pictures and thanks for the information about how quickly they grow.

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