Arctic Terns (Sterna paradisaea) are bold and beautiful birds. They nest on the rocks at Eastern Egg Rock and often dive-bomb the people who are going out to do research. Because their nest is on the bare rocks, they must defend their carefully from predators and anyone they think might harm them.
Arctic Terns lay two eggs (occasionally one or three) in their nest on the bare rocks, often lined with nothing more than a few pebbles. The eggs are the same color as the rocks and speckled to give them great camouflage. Arctic Tern eggs hatch after about three weeks of incubation.
The chicks are fluffy and cute! Their parents bring them small fish from the ocean for three to four weeks until they learn to fly and fish for themselves. After that, they've got a long journey ahead of them.
When the young Arctic Terns fledge, they start out the migration with their parents. After migrating south, most young terns stay in the southern hemisphere off Antarctica until they are two years old. They then migrate back to their birthplace without the help of their parents! How they remember the way home is a great mystery to scientists and an amazing feat by Arctic Terns.
The Arctic Tern is the World Champion for migration. They migrate from Maine and areas further north to the coast of Africa and then south to Antarctica. Some migrate over 20,000 miles a year!