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jerry jackson
Photographed by Bette Jackson

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Source: Least Terns 1

Length of Segment: 00:01:11

Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Terns are members of the same family that includes gulls, but terns differ from gulls in important ways. Gulls are scavengers and predators that capture what they can on water or land by grabbing it, but gulls don't dive. Terns are fish-eating predators that hover briefly above water and dive in to capture prey. They also take other small animals even over land, but always by diving. Gulls often rest floating on the water; terns never do. Both gulls and terns can be seen loafing on the beach and their appearance allows us to distinguish them. A gull stands upright with a rounded head and a heavy bill that is not sharply pointed. A tern is more sleek, almost seeming to hug the ground on its short legs. A tern often has a crest that seems slicked back and has a bill that is straight, dagger-like, and sharply pointed. A gull's large wings and short broad tail allow it to sometimes sail with little effort on coastal breezes. A tern's wings are long, narrow, and pointed, perfect for speed and maneuvering, and its often forked tail allows intricate control of every dive.

'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.

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