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Whiskered Tern: 21 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Whiskered tern facts are about a unique bird species.

There are 40 species of tern birds in the world and the whiskered tern is one in this family. This tern bird is also known by its scientific name Chlidonias hybrida. The whiskered tern (Chlidonias hybrida) is seen in marshes, lagoons, rivers, lakes, and winter coasts and lives in Australia, Europe, Asia, and Africa. The whiskered tern (Chlidonias hybrida) is classified as a Least Concern species by the International Union For Conservation Of Nature (IUCN).

The whiskered tern (Chlidonias hybrida) is primarily a carnivore and feeds on small fish, beetles, ants, frogs, and crustaceans. Whiskered terns breed in colonies and give birth to two to three eggs. The male and female species are similar in appearance. The white-winged black tern is a similar species to this bird in breeding plumage and looks like a common tern in non-breeding plumage. They are known to be aggressive towards both humans as well as animals if they are placed in a position of threat.

For more relatable content, check out these fact files on Caspian tern and chipping sparrow.

Whiskered Tern Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a whiskered tern?

The whiskered tern is a type of bird that belongs to the kingdom Animalia and order Charadriiformes.

What class of animal does a whiskered tern belong to?

The whiskered tern is a bird that belongs to the class Aves, family Laridae, and genus Chlidonias.  

How many whiskered terns are there in the world?

The population of whiskered terns in the world is not evaluated. This species breeds a single brood each time. They are classified as a Least Concern species by the IUCN.

Where does a whiskered tern live?

The whiskered marsh tern lives in marshes, lagoons, rivers, lakes, and winter coasts. They are seen in Australia, southern Europe, Asia, and Africa. In Australia, there is population scattered around the countrie. In winters, they migrate to Europe, Africa, and Australia.  

What is a whiskered tern's habitat?

The whiskered marsh tern habitat constitutes marshes, lagoons, rivers, lakes, and winter coasts. They prefer residing in terrestrial, freshwater wetlands, swamps, and other similar territories. They are a migratory species and move to other regions to escape the harsh climates.

Who do whiskered terns live with?

Whiskered terns live in colonies and they are seldom seen by themselves. They may be confused with similar species. However, it may be difficult to spot them in the same region since they are migratory.

How long does a whiskered tern live?

A whiskered tern's exact lifespan is not evaluated. An Arctic tern named Buddon Ness in Angus is the oldest tern, living for 32 years.

How do they reproduce?

Whiskered terns breed in loose colonies. During the breeding season, these birds move away from mainland areas compared to the non-breeding season. They prefer breeding in swamps and marshes in loose colonies. Breeding adults reproduce sexually and breeding adults may take part in courtship displays. The whiskered tern in breeding plumage has a black crown and white cheeks as well as on the sides of its neck compared to the non-breeding species. Their nest is usually built with a rough draft of vegetation either floating or moored. Both males and females are equally involved in raising the young. They raise a single brood per breeding season. The juveniles are dependent on their parent birds in the initial few weeks until they are ready to fledge.

What is their conservation status?

Whiskered terns are classified as a Least Concern species by the IUCN.

Whiskered Tern Fun Facts

What do whiskered terns look like?

Whiskered tern identification is simple as they have an overall white to gray plumage. The white-winged black tern is similar to this bird in breeding plumage, at the same time looking like a common tern in non-breeding plumage. They have a pale gray rump and their tail is also pale gray. The region below the tail up to their legs is white. They have a dark gray body and their underparts are dark gray as well. They have a small face with two brown eyes with red bills and legs. Their ear coverts are black and white. Their forehead has a white and dark crown. They are primarily distinguished from other terns owing to their white cheeks which resemble whiskers under a black cap.  

The white-winged black tern has a little darker breeding plumage with a black cap, however, it looks like a common tern in non-breeding plumage.

How cute are they?

These birds are cute in appearance. These birds have an overall white-gray plumage. They are clever, active, and agile beings and not afraid of humans or other bigger species of animals.

How do they communicate?

Terns birds communicate via both songs as well as calls. The most common call of these birds is 'krrek'. These birds have courtship calls as well. They communicate mostly via calls and rarely via songs.

How big is a whiskered tern?

A whiskered tern is 9.44 in (24 cm) in length which is two times bigger than the least tern, which is 8-10 in (20.32- 25.4 cm) long.

How fast can a whiskered tern fly?

The whiskered tern's exact flying speed is not evaluated. They are a migratory species, so they definitely have long and sustained flights. While flying, it is common for most birds to spread out their tail as well while in flight. These birds also spread out their tail while in flight.

How much does a whiskered tern weigh?

Whiskered terns weigh 0.2 lb (88 g). These birds are small to medium-sized and their weight is influenced by their diet patterns. Prior to migration, birds usually feed more to protect and sustain themselves.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male and female birds are not addressed differently. Male and female birds are similar in appearance and differ in reproductive functions.

What would you call a baby whiskered tern?

A baby whiskered tern is called a chick and is dependent on its parents in the initial few weeks of its life. They are raised in marshes or swamps and protected from possible predators.

What do they eat?

Whiskered tern birds primarily eat medium-sized fish, small fish, amphibians like pool frogs, beetles, and crustaceans. Predators of these birds include hawks, eagles, and falcons, or other carnivorous animals.  

Are they dangerous?

No, they are not innately dangerous, however, if threatened, this bird is known to attack both humans as well as animals. It is best to maintain a safe distance while observing this bird species.

Would they make a good pet?

No, these birds survive best in the wild, so they are not ideal to be kept as pets. If you wish to keep birds as pets, you should consider sociable birds like parrots or parakeets.

Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.

Did you know...

Common terns are known to build large colonies and yet don't find it difficult to spot their own breeding nests. Studies have shown common terns can find their eggs even if they are buried.

Common tern colonies can be about 2000 birds, but this may in some instances go up to 20,000 birds.

What are the different types of terns?

There are 40 species of tern in the world including the Arctic tern, black tern, and common tern. They have an overall white-gray plumage but they all differ slightly in appearance. They mostly inhabit marshes and swamplands. All the different species are endemic to different regions around the world. They are all migratory and can be distinguished by slight differences in appearance.

What is the difference between the whiskered tern vs gull-billed tern?

The whiskered tern is primarily distinguished by its appearance. They are primarily distinguished from other terns owing to their white cheeks which resemble whiskers under a black cap. The gull-billed tern has a slightly different appearance. The gull-billed tern derived its name from the Greek meaning 'to laugh' or 'swallow'. The gull-billed tern is seen in North America, while the whiskered tern is seen in Australia, Europe, Asia, and Africa. The gull-billed tern has a black bill, while the whiskered tern has a red bill.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Hawaiian hawk facts and saker falcon facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable whiskered tern coloring pages.

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