Whiskered tern

The whiskered tern (Chlidonias hybrida) is a tern in the family Laridae. The genus name is from Ancient Greek khelidonios, "swallow-like", from khelidon, "swallow". The specific hybridus is Latin for hybrid; Pallas thought it might be a hybrid of white-winged black tern and common tern, writing "Sterna fissipes [Chlidonias leucopterus] et Hirundine [Sterna hirundo] natam”.[2]

This bird has a number of geographical races, differing mainly in size and minor plumage details.

C. h. hybrida breeds in warmer parts of Europe and Asia. The smaller-billed and darker C. h. delalandii is found in east and south Africa, and the paler C. h. javanicus from Java to Australia.

The tropical forms are resident, but European and Asian birds winter south to Africa and the Indian Subcontinent.

This species breeds in colonies on inland marshes, sometimes amongst black-headed gulls, which provide some protection. The scientific name arises from the fact that this, the largest marsh tern, show similarities in appearance to both the white Sterna terns and to black tern.

Whiskered tern
Whiskered tern (Chlidonias hybrida delalandii)
Summer plumage
Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa
Whiskered tern 2018
Winter plumage
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Laridae
Genus: Chlidonias
Species:
C. hybrida
Binomial name
Chlidonias hybrida
(Pallas, 1811)
Subspecies
  • C. h. hybrida(Pallas, 1811)
    (Eurasian Whiskered Tern)
  • C. h. delalandii(Mathews, 1912)
    (African Whiskered Tern)
  • C. h. javanicus(Horsfield, 1821)
    (Australasian Whiskered Tern)
Synonyms
  • Chlidonias hybridus

Description

Whiskered tern flying
Whiskered tern in flight

The size, black cap, strong bill (29–34 mm in males, 25–27 mm and stubbier in females, with a pronounced gonys) and more positive flight recall common or Arctic tern, but the short, forked-looking tail and dark grey breeding plumage above and below are typically marsh tern characteristics. The summer adult has white cheeks and red legs and bill. The crown is flecked with white in the juvenile, and the hindcrown is more uniformly blackish, though in the winter adult this too is flecked with white. The black ear-coverts are joined to the black of the hindcrown, and the space above is mottled with white, causing the black to appear as a C-shaped band. The sides of the neck are white; this sometimes continues across the nape. The collar is less sharply defined. All through the year the rump is pale grey. In the juvenile, the mantle (279 mm) has a variegated pattern. The feathers of the back and scapulars are dark brown, with prominent broad buff edgings and often subterminal buff bars or centers. There is usually an admixture of new gray feathers, especially on the mantle, quite early in the fall. The mantle is silvery-gray in the adult. The call is a characteristic krekk.

In winter, the forehead becomes white and the body plumage a much paler grey. Juvenile whiskered terns have a ginger scaly back, and otherwise look much like winter adults. The first winter plumage is intermediate between juvenile and adult winter, with patchy ginger on the back.

The whiskered tern eats small fish, amphibians, insects and crustaceans.

References

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Chlidonias hybrida". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 102, 196. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.

External links

Black-bellied tern

The black-bellied tern (Sterna acuticauda) is a tern found near large rivers in the Indian subcontinent, its range extending from Pakistan, Nepal and India to Myanmar. It has become very scarce in the eastern part of its range and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed its conservation status as being endangered.

They have a black belly in the summer and a deep forked tail. They can sometimes resemble whiskered terns (Chlidonias hybrida), but the deeper fork of the tail and the black on the lower belly distinguish them from the shallow fork and black closer to the breast on the whiskered tern. Considering that sequence analysis supports moving the similar black-fronted tern ("Sterna" albostriata) into Chlidonias, this species might also be better placed in that genus, but no research has yet been conducted.

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Lake Işıklı is an important site for breeding waterbirds and large numbers of wintering wildfowl. It has been proposed as an Important Bird Area. Some of the species that breed or migrate through Lake Işıklı are; greater white-fronted goose (Anser albifrons), red-crested pochard (Netta rufina), common pochard (Aythya ferina), ferruginous duck (Aythya nyroca), squacco heron (Ardeola ralloides), pygmy cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmeus), common coot (Fulica atra), gull-billed tern (Sterna nilotica), whiskered tern (Chlidonias hybrida).

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The name marsh tern refers to terns of the genus Chlidonias, which are typically found in freshwater marshes, rather than coastal locations. The genus name Chlidonias is from Ancient Greek khelidonios, "swallow-like", from khelidon, "swallow".There are four species:

Black tern, Chlidonias niger (or nigra)

White-winged tern or white-winged black tern, Chlidonias leucopterus (or leucoptera)

Whiskered tern, Chlidonias hybrida (or hybridus)

The black-fronted tern, Chlidonias albostriatus (formerly Sterna albostriata) is now also recognized to belong to this genus.Notice the hesitation in the gender of the epithet of the scientific names, as they are usually masculine (albostriatus, leucopterus or niger), but in the case of the whiskered tern is mostly used as feminine (hybrida), maybe from the influence of the previous gender used, Sterna.

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