Greater Crested Tern

Thalasseus bergii




Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:


Number of Eggs:

1 - 2

Incubation Days:

25 - 30

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

Nest is laid in a scrape on open, sandy ground, occasionally of roof tops.

Nest Material:

Small pebbles or bits of shell.





Greater Crested Tern: Large, mostly white, crested tern with gray upper wings and back, black cap and nape, and white front. Long, pointed wings with black tips on primaries. Long, sharp, rather straight, yellow bill. Medium length, forked tail. Short black legs and feet. Forages for small fish, crustaceans, and bycatch from fishing boats by hovering above the water and plunge-diving down into the water to snatch the food item with its bill.

Breeding and Nesting

Greater Crested Tern: One or two cream colored eggs with black streaks are laid in a scrape on open, sandy ground, sometimes on rooftops. The nest is occasionally lined with small pebbles or bits of shells. Incubation is carried out by both sexes for 25 to 30 days. Nesting occurs in colonies, sometimes numbering in the thousands.

Foraging and Feeding

Greater Crested Tern: Feeds on a variety of small fish and crustaceans. Also takes bycatch from fishing vessels, insects, sea turtle hatchlings, and squid. Forages by hovering above the surface of the water and then plunge-diving down below the surface to snatch prey with its bill. It can dive up to three feet below the water.


Greater Crested Tern: Flight call is low-pitched "wep." Nesting colonies produce loud "kerrak" calls.

Similar Species

Little Tern is much smaller, has yellow feet, and a black-tipped bill. All other terns in this range have black or dark red bills.

The area on top of the head of the bird.
Also called the hindneck or collar, it is the back of the neck where the head joins the body.
The primaries are the flight feathers specialized for flight. They are attached to the "hand" equivalent part of the wing.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X