Over about 90 minutes I observed the three terns on the lake this morning. The female would only accept the offering of a minnow from the male with whom she has bonded over the past two weeks. I shot photo sequences to document the acceptance from the intended mate and refusal of minnows offered by the intruder. I also have videos of three similar subsequent courtship feeding encounters with the same results.
The first sequence begins as the female awaits the arrival of her bonded mate.
He arrives with a small minnow.
She eagerly accepts the offering.
The male departs before she even finishes swallowing the fish.
Now the intruding male is approaching the same female with a fish. This was his third try this morning.
He similarly offers it as a courtship gesture.
The female tern appears uninterested in his prize.
He tries valiantly to attract her interest in the gift.
He dangles the minnow in front of the reluctant female, to no avail.
The male ends up eating the fish before departing.
The following video documents three other encounters, two by the insurgent male, with similar results. It is best viewed full-screen. If there is a blank space below, click here.