eWestern Birds

The Quarterly Journal of Western Field Ornithologists

Vol. 39, No. 2
June 2008
Western Field Ornithologists

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Nest Spacing in Elegant Terns: Hexagonal Packing Revisited
Charles T. Collins and Michael D. Taylor

ABSTRACT: Within an important breeding colony in southern California, Elegant Terns (Thalasseus elegans) nest in one to several tightly packed clusters. Inter-nest distances within these clusters average 31.2 cm. This value is less than that reported for the larger-bodied Royal Tern (T. maximus) and Great Crested Tern (T. bergii). For Elegant Terns, the modal number of adjacent nests was six (range 5–7). This type of nest arrangement has been previously described as hexagonal packing and now appears to be typical of all Thalasseus terns for which data are available.

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