The Common Tern is a streamlined bird with narrow, pointed wings. The tail extends beyond the wingtips when the bird is perched. In breeding plumage, the Common Tern has a light gray mantle and belly, a white tail, a white face, and a black cap. Unlike many larger terns, the Common Tern does not have a crest. The bill is bright red with a dark tip (the dark tip is often gone by July), and the legs are red. In the non-breeding season, this tern has black legs, a black bill, and a white forehead. A bold, dark bar is visible on the wrist of first-year birds. The outer wing feathers are dark. Juveniles are brownish with orange bills and legs. As they age, they lose the brown wash and look like non-breeding-plumage adults.

 

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