Fun Inca Tern Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Jan 07, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Ankit Shinde
Inca tern facts are fun to know.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.4 Min

Found along the west coast of South America, particularly in coastal regions of Peru and Chile, these birds prefer coastal habitats and rocky cliffs. A large number of their population can be spotted in the cold Humboldt Current.

Inca tern's charcoal gray body, bright red beak, and characteristic white mustache set them apart from other terns.

They are piscivorous who feed mainly on small fish and other water creatures like shrimps and crabs.

These birds are found in large colonies and breed twice a year, after a period of extended courtship. They lay eggs in batches of one to three and the chicks, after hatching out of the eggs, quickly become independent.

Inca terns dive deep after their prey and are known to pick their prey from the surface of the water or steal pieces of fish from sea lions, whales, and other marine animals. Sadly though, this has become a near-threatened species.

Owing to extensive fishing and production of guano, the total number of these birds is decreasing and if this continues, we might not be able to spot one in the future.

Read on to learn more about these amazing birds. If you like this article, then also check out Florida scrub jay and cockatiel.

Inca Tern Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an Inca tern?

Inca terns are one of the most beautiful species of birds that can be found on this planet.

What class of animal does an Inca tern belong to?

Inca terns belong to the class Aves of the animal kingdom.

How many Inca terns are there in the world?

As perthe International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN Red List, the total number of Inca terns currently existing in the world can be estimated to be a little over 150,000.

Where does an Inca tern live?

Inca terns are generally spotted along the west coast of South America in countries like Ecuador, Chile, Colombia, and Peru. Great numbers of these birds are found near the Humboldt Current. They are frequent around inshore guano islands and offshore islands.

What is an Inca tern's habitat?

Inca terns are seabirds whose main habitat is coastal regions. They prefer coasts with sandy beaches and cliffs.

Who do Inca terns live with?

Inca terns are sociable creatures who love to live together and prefer nesting in huge groups or large colonies which include several thousand of these birds. They live in these groups most of the time, except during breeding season when they fly away with their distinct partners to lay eggs in safe places like fissures or rock crevices.

How long does an Inca tern live?

The birds of this species are known to live for 14 years in the wild and can live up to the age of 20 years if they are kept in captivity.

How do they reproduce?

Inca terns have an elaborate and extended courtship period. They are mostly known to be with a single partner for their whole life.

Males of this species, in an attempt to attract females, perform a graceful flight and are also known to follow their chosen one with a fish in their beak. Females lay eggs twice a year in a safe nest in fissures and rock crevices on sandy coasts.

The breeding period occurs once during April and July, and again during October and December.

The chicks are kept safe and protected in the nest and during the incubation period of three to four weeks, both parents feed and take care of the baby. In a month's time, the chicks grow wings and are able to fly out of the nest.

What is their conservation status?

The IUCN has estimated the total number of Inca terns currently living on earth to be a little over 150,000. However, due to the dual effects of over-fishing and the production of guano, there has been a sharp decline in their number as their habitat is threatened.

This has resulted in them being classified as a Near Threatened species. There has been a huge decline in their numbers.

Inca Tern Fun Facts

What do Inca terns look like?

An Inca tern's body is covered in charcoal gray feathers. These beautiful birds have a bright red beak and webbed feet, along with a distinctive white mustache in both males and females.Inca terns are a colorful species of birds.


How cute are they?

The cuteness of an Inca tern stems from its appearance.

How do they communicate?

An Inca tern's call is very similar to that of a cat. Since they live in colonies, these birds make a loud noise while marking their territory.

How big is an Inca tern?

The average length of an Inca tern is estimated to be between 1.28-1.38 ft (39-42 cm), which means they are roughly two and half times the length of a regular sparrow.

How fast can an Inca tern fly?

An Inca tern bird or Larosterna Inca are very skilled or proficient fliers. However the exact speed is unknown. Th These seabirds, after hovering over their prey for some time, plunge dive from a height and catch their prey by surface-dipping or snatching pieces of fish from sea lions, whales, or dolphins.

How much does an Inca tern weigh?

Inca terns weigh around 6.35-7.41 oz (180-210 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Male and female birds of this species do not have distinct names.

What would you call a baby Inca tern?

An Inca tern baby bird is called a 'chick', like most bird species.

What do they eat?

An Inca tern (Larosterna Inca) is a seabird which is mostly found in coastal areas. Like most terns, they feed on small fish, anchovies, and some arthropods.

Are they dangerous?

Although they are not known to harm human beings, it takes a certain amount of courage to snatch food such as fish out of another animal's mouth. Inca terns can be dangerous as they are known to snatch food out of the mouths of sea lions, dolphins, and whales.

They are also known to follow fishing boats and steal food from them.

Would they make a good pet?

Inca terns are wild birds. However, they can be seen in zoos where they are kept in captivity.

Did you know...

Inca terns get their name from the ancient Inca empire. These birds are found in the same regions where the ancient Inca empire used to rule.

Inca terns start breeding from the early age of two to three years once they are mature.

Why do Inca terns have mustaches?

Males and females of this particular species have a distinct white handle-bar mustache which makes them stand out. However, the main purpose of this mustache is to indicate a particular bird's health, as scientists believe that a longer mustache means a healthier bird.

What is the behavior of an Inca tern?

These seabirds are known to live in large colonies. This is mostly due to their gregarious nature and also to protect themselves from predators since it's easier to attack and protect themselves in a group.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including chestnut-sided warbler, or great green macaw.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our inca tern coloring pages.

Inca Tern Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Small fish and crustaceans

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?


How Much Did They Weigh?

6.35-7.41 oz (180-210 g)

What habitat Do they Live In?

coastal islands

Where Do They Live?

northern peru to chile

How Long Were They?

1.28-1.38 ft (39-42 cm)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Larosterna Inca

What Do They Look Like?

Dark gray in color with a red beak and white mustache

Skin Type


What Are Their Main Threats?

humans, cats, and rats

What is their Conservation Status?

Near Threatened
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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Ankit Shinde

Bachelor of Journalism and Mass Communication

Ankit Shinde picture

Ankit ShindeBachelor of Journalism and Mass Communication

Ankit is a Journalism and Mass Media graduate from the University of Mumbai. With experience in SEO, blog and article writing, and fiction writing, he is a versatile writer and content creator. In his free time, Ankit enjoys reading, writing, and listening to music.

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