Back and upper wings silvery grey, breast, throat and belly white, the tail is forked. A long slightly downward curved pale yellow bill, white front to the forehead, and a black cap with a spiky hairdo make this tern easy to identify. In flight the pointed wings are backswept; the under-wings are white with dark grey tips.
It hunts mainly for fish by diving into the water from several metres, taking prey from just beneath the surface.
Nest in large colonies often with other terns. The nest is a shallow scrape in the sand or in soft soil on offshore islands. Both parents share incubation and care for the young.
Places to Look
Beaches, bays, islands offshore, sandspits, estuaries, salt ponds and lakes. Often seen around boats.
- Coastal Birds of the Burdekin Dry Tropics
- Birdlife Townsville (formerly the Townsville Region Bird Observers Club)
NQ Dry Tropics gratefully acknowledges the contribution of Birdlife Townsville (formerly the Townsville Region Bird Observers Club) to the information on this page.
This is a legacy website. Content is not being updated but is kept as an archive.
Updated NRM information is now held in the NQ Dry Tropics NRM Information Portal at http://nrm.nqdrytropics.com.au/.
while corporate information about NQ Dry Tropics is held on our main website at http://www.nqdrytropics.com.au