White Fairy Tern

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Image:Fairytern.jpg

Common Name: Fairy or White Tern
Scientific Name: Gygis alba

Size: 12.5 inches (33 cm)

Habitat: Pacific & Indian Oceans. It ranges widely and is found in the Caribbean, South Atlantic, Indian Ocean, South Pacific Islands, Hawaii and Eastern Australia. It nests on coral islands, usually on trees with thin branches but also on rocky ledges and on man-made structures

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: 150,000 - 1,100,000 mature individuals.

Diet: Small fish caught by diving.

Nesting: This small tern is famous for laying its egg on bare thin branches in a small fork or depression without a nest. This behavior is unusual for terns, which generally nest on the ground. It is thought that the reason for the absence of nests is the reduction in nest parasites, which in some colonial seabirds can cause the abandonment of an entire colony. In spite of these benefits there are costs associated with tree nesting, as the eggs and chicks are vulnerable to becoming dislodged by heavy winds. For this reason the White Tern is also quick to relay should they lose the egg. The newly hatched chicks have well developed feet to hang on to their precarious nesting site with. It is a long-lived bird, having been recorded living for 17 years.

Cool Facts: The Hawaiian name for the White Tern is “manu-o-Kū” . The White Tern is sometimes known as the “Fairy Tern” which is potentially confusing as because there’s another bird that goes by the same common name of “Fairy Tern” (Sternula nereis).


Found in Songbird ReMix Seabirds

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