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BirdNote: Sooty Tern

Greg Lavaty

The Wide-awake Bird

Sooty Terns have long been called "wide-awakes" because of their calls. But it may describe their sleeping habits, too.

When young terns leave their breeding grounds, they don't return for several years. They do not rest on the water, and only rarely land on floating objects. They feed while aloft, grabbing prey from the ocean's surface.

On the fly, they also capture fish that have been chased out of the water by predators. In other words, Sooty Terns live in the air for years at a time.