Florida Snapshots: A Royal Courtship, Fort De Soto Beach

These sea birds begin mating season with a dinner date


The royal tern is a common sight along the beaches of Florida’s Gulf Coast. These coastal sea birds can often be seen swooping and diving in the shallows as they hunt for small fish, shrimp and crabs.

Though they often hunt and fly in groups, when mating season arrives, terns pair off. And much like male humans might entice a would-be partner with a dinner invitation, a male tern often brings an offering of food to the mating tryst, and may continue to feed her during courtship and egg laying. The bond formed by this meal sharing will last until the chicks hatch and leave the nest.