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Common tern

The common tern (Sterna hirundo) is a seabird with four subspecies breeding in temperate and subarctic regions of Europe, Asia and North America. This tern is migratory, wintering in warmer coastal regions. Adults have light grey upperparts, whiter underparts, a black cap, orange-red legs, and a narrow pointed black-tipped red or all-black bill. The bird nests on any flat bare surface close to water, including rafts. The nest is a scrape lined with whatever is available. It lays up to three blotchy camouflaged eggs, incubated by both sexes, that hatch in around 21 to 22 days. The downy chicks fledge in 22 to 28 days. This tern feeds by plunge-diving for fish in the sea or freshwater. Eggs and young are vulnerable to predation by mammals and large birds. The common tern's large population and huge breeding range mean that it is classed as being of least concern. Despite international protection, in some areas populations are threatened by habitat loss or the disturbance of breeding colonies. (Full article...)

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Today's featured picture

Cover of the vocal score of Les Troyens

Les Troyens is a grand opera in five acts by Hector Berlioz with a French-language libretto written by the composer himself based on Virgil's Aeneid. The score was composed between 1856 and 1858, but Berlioz did not live long enough to see the work performed in its entirety. However, the last three acts, substantially abridged, were performed during his lifetime under the title Les Troyens à Carthage by Léon Carvalho's company, the Théâtre Lyrique, in Paris in 1863. For this performance, Berlioz added an orchestral introduction and a prologue. He was not happy with the result, noting bitterly that he had agreed to let Carvalho do it "despite the manifest impossibility of his doing it properly. He had just obtained an annual subsidy of a hundred thousand francs from the government. Nonetheless the enterprise was beyond him. His theater was not large enough, his singers were not good enough, his chorus and orchestra were small and weak." This is the cover of the piano–vocal score of Les Troyens, published in 1863 by Choudens, with a lithographic illustration by Antoine Barbizet.

Lithograph credit: Antoine Barbizet; restored by Adam Cuerden

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