This is where many banders and field biologists often use the abbreviations SY 
and ASY, for second year and after second year. The second year, a.k.a. second 
summer a.k.a. year old, plumages for many species are pretty definitive, and 
quite distinct from adults. In the case of COTE and ARTE, birds stay in a 
plumage that resembles their initial juvenile coloration for their second 
calendar year. The black-billed, white-foreheaded birds that are so abundant at 
the beach this season are coming up on a year old. This “imperfect” adult 
Arctic, with only some smudges, flecks, and short streamers to separate it from 
a classic mature bird, is probably at least two years old. I certainly don’t 
think it was born during the last season, which is what I understand makes a 
second summer bird. It may be in its third summer, or maybe it’s older and just 
a little funky. I reported it on eBird as ASY, because it is definitely far 
more progressed than the typical yearling birds loafing around the inlets. 

-Tim H

> On Jun 18, 2018, at 7:15 PM, Steve Walter <> wrote:
> Tim,
> In normal conversation, I typically use the phrase “two year old” for birds 
> that I suspect were born two summers ago. But as the conversation of recent 
> days has alluded, there can be adults that for whatever reason, are not 
> complete. And adult traits may not develop in sync in younger birds. Looking 
> back at the weekend’s posts, I saw that Pat Lindsay made a point about her 
> “second summer type” having a black bill. Today’s had a red bill. So a two 
> year old? Probably. But definitely? Maybe, maybe not. It looks like it – so 
> “second summer type” works for the public record.
> Steve
> From: Timothy Healy [] 
> Sent: Monday, June 18, 2018 6:49 PM
> To: Steve Walter <>
> Subject: Re: [nysbirds-l] Nickerson Beach Arctic Tern and others
> Steve and other sternid enthusiasts,
> Isn’t second summer the term used for the immature aspect birds with white 
> foreheads and black bills? A freshly fledged juvenile would be living through 
> its first summer, so second summer individuals are yearlings, correct? If my 
> understanding of the nomenclature is accurate, the bird I found yesterday, 
> which matches Steve’s description and the photos of Tripper’s bird from 
> Friday, would be in its third summer or older. At a glance it looks like a 
> classic alternate plumage adult ARTE, but the faint darker smudging on the 
> carpal bar and the tail streamers that don’t extend beyond the folded 
> wingtips indicate that it is not fully mature. I saw a similarly marked 
> individual at Nickerson last year, and in 2015 I got a photo of an adult-like 
> ARTE with a surprisingly dark bill. The variation in age classes and species 
> of terns is so fascinating. I’ve learned a lot from these discussions about 
> Arctics, Roseates, and the mysterious dark Commons. Mornings and afternoons 
> at the colonies and inlets are one of my favorite parts of early summer here 
> on Long Island. 
> Cheers!
> -Tim H
> On Jun 18, 2018, at 6:05 PM, Steve Walter <> wrote:
> Another day, another Arctic Tern at Nickerson Beach. Actually, my first for 
> the year, and this one had to be waited on. It might have been too foggy in 
> the morning for it to find land (joke). Interesting bird this one. My tern 
> guru advises me to call it a “second summer type”. Basically adult looking 
> with a red bill, but with a carpal bar and speckling on the forehead (not 
> well visible in the picture I posted). In a similar vein, there was a Roseate 
> Tern of less than full adult appearance. This bird, and also a full adult, 
> had readable blue legs bands. Maybe others have seen this, but this is the 
> first time I’ve seen terns with something more readable in the field than the 
> metal bands. I’ll reports these (bands B97 and Y11) and find out more in due 
> time. But perhaps someone on this list might know something (Joe D?).  Also, 
> a Gull-billed Tern flying over the east tern colony around mid-day. Pictures 
> of the Arctic and Roseates have been added to the bottom of the Recent Work 
> page at my web site .
> Steve Walter
> Bayside, NY
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