PHOTO: Not a seagull, but a royal tern

Royal terns. [Karen Lebing]

Even very gregarious species sometimes need social distancing.

Royal terns, known scientifically as Thalasseus maximus, regularly form tight-knit flocks and are typically only territorial around the immediate site of their nest.

These two royal terns, however, are exhibiting signs of aggression: raised black head crest, outstretched wings, and ruffled back feathers.

Refuge experts aren’t quite sure why this pair was showing their heightened behavior or how their disagreement was resolved.

Ruffled feathers or not they are a handsome pair.

Make arrangements to attend the 25th Annual Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival (and encore celebration) hosted by the Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society coming later this year. See more details at