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
C. hybrida
Binomial name
Chlidonias hybrida
(Pallas, 1811)
  • C. h. hybrida(Pallas, 1811)
    (Eurasian Whiskered Tern)
  • C. h. delalandii(Mathews, 1912)
    (African Whiskered Tern)
  • C. h. javanicus(Horsfield, 1821)
    (Australasian Whiskered Tern)
  • Chlidonias hybridus


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.


  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.

Cheddar Reservoir

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Chelmsford Nature Reserve

Chelmsford Nature Reserve, also known as Chelmsford Dam Nature Reserve is a nature reserve administered by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and is situated on the Ngagane River, which is situated some 38 kilometres (24 mi) south of Newcastle, in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa.

Fen Drayton Lakes

Fen Drayton Lakes is a complex of lakes, lagoons, ponds and a river, situated close to Fen Drayton, Holywell and Swavesey in Cambridgeshire, England.

The complex was formerly a gravel extraction site until 1992 when gravel production ceased and the pits were allowed to flood to provide a nature reserve and bird sanctuary.

Lagoa do Negro

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Lake Işıklı

Lake Işıklı (Turkish: Işıklı Gölü) is a freshwater lake in Turkey's inner Aegean Region extending on Çivril Plain between the provinces of Denizli and Afyonkarahisar. The lake is bordered by the boundaries of several districts, namely, clockwise Çivril (Denizli Province), the principal urban center of the region, and Kızılören, Dinar and Evciler (Afyonkarahisar Province). A township on the lake shore and that is part of Çivril district carries the same name as the lake (Işıklı).

The lake lies at an altitude of 821 m and its area is 73 square kilometres. Its waters fed by streams are used for irrigation for the surrounding agricultural lands and the lake is also an important fishing and aquaculture center at regional scale.

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).

Lake Çavuşçu

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The lake is situated in Ilgın ilçe (district) of Konya Province at 38°20′36″N 31°52′39″E. Its elevation with respect to sea level is about 1,110 metres (3,640 ft). Its surface area is 3,123 hectares (7,720 acres).The lake is fed by Battal and Çebişli creeks.

List of birds of South India

This list of birds of South India includes bird from India south approximately of the Narmada River.

Rollapadu in Andhra Pradesh, Nagarhole (Rajiv Gandhi National Park) and Bandipur National Park in Karnataka; Rajamalai (Eravikulam National Park) and Periyar National Park in Kerala; Mudumalai National Park, Udhagamandalam, Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary in Anamalai, Vedanthangal and Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary in Kodikkarai, Tamil Nadu are notable bird watching locations in South India.


Mangalajodi is an olden village under Tangi, Odisha block in Khordha district of Odisha at the northern edge of Chilika Lake. Scenic beauty of this village and its vast wetland attracts the visitors. In 2017 this village is declared and functioning as a separate Grama Panchayat (Mangalajodi Grama Panchayat)

Marsh tern

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.

The black-bellied tern (Sterna acuticauda) and the white-cheeked tern (Sterna repressa) might also be placed in Chlidonias.


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Seekoei-vlei Nature Reserve

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Somawathiya National Park

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Steenkampsberg, Mpumalanga

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Suchindram Theroor Birds Sanctuary

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Valley Wetlands

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Breeding birds include good numbers of sedge and reed warblers which have been joined in recent years by Cetti's warbler. Several species of duck breed including shoveler, gadwall and pochard. Outside the breeding season, duck numbers increase and bittern and marsh harrier are regularly seen. Several rare birds have been recorded such as whiskered tern, green-winged teal and ring-necked duck.

The reserve is rich in wetland plants with large areas of reed and willow and uncommon species such as eight-stamened waterwort, flowering rush, marsh fern and hop sedge. Among the insects are hairy dragonfly, variable damselfly and various water beetles. Mammals include otter and water vole.


Willen is a district of Milton Keynes, England and is also one of the ancient villages of Buckinghamshire to have been included in the designated area of the New City in

1967. At the 2011 Census the population of the district was included in the civil parish of Campbell Park. The original village is now a small but important part of the larger district that contains it and to which it gives its name.


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