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White Tern

Gygis alba
The White Tern, sometimes also called the Fairy Tern, is found throughout tropical and subtropical seas. It is distinguishable from other species of tern by its completely white plumage.

The white tern is a medium sized tern that grows to a bodily length of around 30 centimetres and a wingspan of around 25 centimetres. It has white plumage with black rings around the eyes and a black bill. It has a tail which is less sharply forked than many other species of tern.

The White Tern is a pelagic bird, that is, a bird that lives in open oceans and normally only come ashore to breed. It preys on small fish and squid.

This tern prefers to breed in open forest country close to the shore, nesting in the higher branches of trees. The breeding season can occur throughout the year with birds laying a single egg that hatches after about 28 days. The young birds take to the sea with their parents between 60 and 75 days after leaving the egg.


Created: 24 March 2004

Published by South Seas, 1 February 2004
Comments, questions, corrections and additions: Paul.Turnbull@jcu.edu.au
Prepared by: Paul Turnbull
Updated: 28 June 2004
To cite this page use: http://nla.gov.au/nla.cs-ss-biogs-P000399

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