Crested Tern

What does it look like? In coastal areas, this medium-sized tern, with robust yellow bill, grey wings and back, white neck and underparts, and scraggy black crest, is perhaps the most commonly seen tern in Australia.  In size, it is the second largest Australian species, second only to the Caspian Tern, which measures 50 to 55 cm, and has a huge red bill.  The similar Lesser Crested Tern, found in northern Australia, has an orange bill and a more extensive black crest.

What are its habitats and habits? The Crested Tern feeds mainly on fish, which are caught by plunging into the eater in a typical tern manner.  Often observed in large  mixed flocks with other terns or gulls, the Crested Tern is highly gregarious.  Breeding takes place between October and December each year, in large, noisy colonies, on  offshore islands.  The eggs, placed in a shallow scrape in the ground, are incubated by both sexes, and both care for the young.

Scientific Name: Thalasseus bergii

Size: 44 to 49 cm

Do you want to know the best places to go to see this species? Check out our book “Australia’s Birdwatching Megaspots” – available for purchase through our secure online store