Dec 01 2014
On Saturday’s blog, red+white made pink. Today, pink makes for roseate names.
The roseate tern has been called the most beautiful tern on earth for his pale rose-colored breast and long fluttering tail streamers. In the photo above, a roseate tern (Sterna dougallii) chases a common tern at Petit Manan Island, Maine. Look closely and you can see the pale pink blush on the tern in the foreground, so pale that the color is not one of its field marks.
The beautiful bird has a good reason for chasing the common one. Roseate terns are listed as endangered in the Northeast and where both species nest, such as Petit Manan, the common terns push out the roseates.
The roseate spoonbill (Platalea ajaja) is a South American bird whose U.S. population was decimated during the plume-hunting era. Now that its carmine, orange, and rose-colored plumes are no longer used for hats, it’s made a modest comeback in Florida and the Gulf Coast states. In Chuck Tague’s photo you can’t see the bird’s orange upper tail but you can see why its name is “roseate.” What a pink bird!
And finally, even a dragonfly can be rose-colored. The roseate skimmer (Orthemis ferruginea) ranges from the southern U.S. to Brazil and has been introduced in Hawaii, perhaps because it’s beautiful. Chuck Tague photographed this one in Florida.
Though their shades of pink are not the same, all three deserve a roseate name.
(Photo of a roseate tern chasing a common tern from US Fish and Wildlife via Wikimedia Commons; click on the image to see the original. Photos of roseate spoonbill and roseate skimmer by Chuck Tague)