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Bird name:

Whiskered Tern

Chlidonias hybrida




Terns (Sternidae)





Euring 5

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Breeding Location:

Marshes, freshwater

Breeding Type:

Monogamous, Solitary nester

Egg Colour:

Grey-green with black splotches.

Number of Eggs:


Incubation Days:

18 - 21

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Material:

Grass and reeds.

Nest Location:

Nest is built on top of floating marsh vegetation.




Whiskered Tern: Small to medium-sized grey tern, black cap, and white throat, cheek, and side of neck. White vent and undertail. Grey-white underwing and flight feathers. Medium-length, pointed, red bill. Long, pointed wings with primaries tipped with black-grey. Short to medium, slightly forked tail. Short, red legs and feet. Feeds on small fish, crustaceans, and insects. Forages by catching insects in flight, picking them off the surface of the water, or diving into the water to catch fish.

Range and Habitat

Whiskered Tern: Rare vagrant to the UK & Ireland. Breeds in temperate regions of Europe and Asia. Winters in Africa, South and Southeast Asia. Found year-round in parts of Africa, Madagascar, India, China, Australia, and all of Taiwan. Prefers freshwater habitats, also found in coastal lagoons.

Breeding and Nesting

Whiskered Tern: Three grey-green eggs with black splotches are laid in a shallow platform nest constructed with grass and reeds. The nest is built on top of floating marsh vegetation. Incubation is carried out by both sexes for 18 to 21 days. This species usually nests in large colonies.

Foraging and Feeding

Whiskered Tern: This small marsh tern feeds on small fish, crustaceans, and insects. Catches food by hovering above water and then diving below the surface to catch prey with its bill. Catches insects by flying low over the water and snatching prey with its bill from the surface, or flying over wetlands and fields to catch insects during flight.


Whiskered Tern: Call is a "krekk".

Similar Species

Whiskered Tern: Arctic and Common Terns have white underparts in breeding plumage, darker upperparts in non-breeding plumage, and have deeply-forked tails.

The area on top of the head of the bird.
Flight feathersX
Located on the wing, and collectively called remiges (singular, remex). The long stiff feathers are subdivided into two major groups based on the location and are called primaries and secondaries.
The primaries are the flight feathers specialized for flight. They are attached to the "hand" equivalent part of the wing.
Birds do not have two separate cavities for excrement and reproduction like humans do. In birds, there is one single entrance/exit that suits both functions called the vent, cloaca or anus.
4 and 6 letter alpha codesX

The four letter common name alpha code is is derived from the first two letters of the common first name and the first two letters of common last name. The six letter species name alpha code is derived from the first three letters of the scientific name (genus) and the first three letters of the scientific name (species). See (1) below for the rules used to create the codes..

Four-letter (for English common names) and six-letter (for scientific names) species alpha codes were developed by Pyle and DeSante (2003, North American Bird-Bander 28:64-79) to reflect A.O.U. taxonomy and nomenclature (A.O.U. 1998) as modified by Supplements 42 (Auk 117:847-858, 2000) and 43 (Auk 119:897-906, 2002). The list has been updated by Pyle and DeSante to reflect changes reported by the A.O.U from 2003 through 2006.


The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) was established in the mid-1990 s as a cooperative project among several federal agencies to improve and expand upon taxonomic data (known as the NODC Taxonomic Code) maintained by the National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

To find the ITIS page for a bird species go to the ITIS web site advanced search and report page at You can enter the TSN or the common name of the bird. It will return the ITIS page for that bird. Another way to obtain the ITIS page is to use the Google search engine. Enter the string ITIS followed by the taxonomic ID, for example "ITIS 178041" will return the page for the Allen's Hummingbird.

Parts of a Standing birdX
Head Feathers and MarkingsX
Parts of a Flying birdX