Range. - Like the preceding species, this bird is nearly cosmopolitan in its range, in North America breeding from the Gulf Coast and Texas northward to the Arctic Regions.
This beautiful bird is the largest of the Tern family, being about 22 inches in length, with the tail forked about 1.5 inches. The bill is large, heavy and bright red; the crest, with which this and the next three species are adorned, is black. The mantle is pale pearl and the under parts white. These Terns sometimes nest in large colonies and then again only a few pairs will be found on an island. In Texas, the breeding season commences in May, it being later in the more northern breeding grounds. They may be regarded as largely eastern birds, as while they are common in the interior of the country, they are rarely found on the Pacific Coast. Two or three eggs constitute a complete set; these are laid on the sand in a slight hollow scooped out by the birds. They vary from gray to greenish buff, marked with brown and lilac. Size 2.60 x 1.75. Data. - Hat Island, Lake Michigan, July 1, 1896. No nest. Two eggs in a hollow in the gravel. Fully a thousand terns nesting on about one acre. Collector, Charles L. Cass.