The Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus, syn. Sterna maxima, see Bridge et al., 2005) is a seabird in the tern family Sternidae. This bird has two distinctive subspecies, T. m. maximus which lives on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the North and South America. The slightly smaller T. m. albididorsalis lives on the coast of West Africa. The Royal Tern has a red-orange bill and a black cap on the top of its head during the breeding season, but in the winter the cap becomes patchy. The Royal Tern is found in Europe, Africa, the Americas, and the Caribbean islands. The Royal Tern lives on the coast and is only found where there is salt water, they do not live where there is fresh water. They tend to feed near the shore, close to the beach or in backwater bays. The Royal Tern's conservation status is listed as least concern, so there is little conservation efforts for the tern.
Seabirds (also known as marine birds) are birds that have adapted to life within the marine environment. While seabirds vary greatly in lifestyle, behaviour and physiology, they often exhibit striking convergent evolution, as the same environmental problems and feeding niches have resulted in similar adaptations. The first seabirds evolved in the Cretaceous period, and modern seabird families emerged in the Paleogene.
In general, seabirds live longer, breed later and have fewer young than other birds do, but they invest a great deal of time in their young. Most species nest in colonies, which can vary in size from a few dozen birds to millions. Many species are famous for undertaking long annual migrations, crossing the equator or circumnavigating the Earth in some cases. They feed both at the ocean's surface and below it, and even feed on each other. Seabirds can be highly pelagic, coastal, or in some cases spend a part of the year away from the sea entirely.
Seabirds and humans have a long history together: they have provided food to hunters, guided fishermen to fishing stocks and led sailors to land. Many species are currently threatened by human activities, and conservation efforts are under way.