US Fish & Wildlife Service


Date of this Version



Published in THE PRAIRIE NATURALIST 10 (1978) p. 23-24


On June 28, 1977, we observed a single pair of Caspian terns (Sterna caspia) with two young on an island in Lake Williams in central North Dakota. This is the first confirmation of actual nesting by the Caspian tern in the State. Previously, breeding records had been postulated from sightings during the breeding season (Kantrud 1973; Robert Randall, personal communication; and Rohrt Stewart, personal communication).

Lake Williams is a shallow, saline, 420-hectare lake located near the town of Turtle Lake in east-central Mclean County. Mean depth during the breeding season (May-June) can range from 0 to 50 centimeters. The island consists of a gravel base covered by sand and is approximately 75 meters long with a tapering width of 33 meters to 66 meters. It covers an approximate area of .4 hectare. The closest point of land is 480 meters from the island. The only vegetation noted was Russian thistle (Salsola kali), which was 30 to 60 centimeters high and covered roughly 60 percent of the island.