Breeding of Whiskered Tern
Whiskered Tern 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. Whiskered Tern breeds in colonies on inland marshes, sometimes amongst black-headed gulls, which provide some protection.
Structure of Whiskered Tern
The size, black cap, strong bill of Whiskered tern are of 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.
Adults of Whiskered Tern
The summer adult of Whiskered Tern has white cheeks and red legs and bill. The crown is flecked with white in the juvenile, and the hind crown 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 hind crown, 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.
Collar of Whiskered Tern
The collar of Whiskered Tern 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 sub terminal buff bars or centres. There is usually an admixture of new grey feathers, especially on the mantle, quite early in the fall. The mantle is silvery-grey in the adult.
Forehead of Whiskered Tern
The forehead of Whiskered Tern 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.
Prey of Whiskered Tern
Whiskered Tern eats small fish, amphibians, insects and crustaceans.
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