17-19 inches. Male and female identical in appearance. The cap is black from eyes and to the top of the head with and erectile crest on the nape. The coat is grey. The rest of the body is white. The beak is pale yellow. The legs are black and short. This bird has a straight beak, sharp and tapered wings and a long forked tail which is characteristic of terns.
Asian and Indian Ocean; Western and Central Pacific. It is found in the Tuamotus and Society Islands but is absent in the Marquesas and the Austral yet the species is known by the residents of Rurutu.
Stays near the coast where it lives in groups.
Powerful “kirrik”, “wep, wep …” during the parade and in flight.
To listen the Greater Crested Tern:
It hunts for fish (including flying fish) in the shallow water of the lagoons or at sea but rarely more than 1 to 2 km away from the coast.
The nests are simple hole in the sand a few meters from the shore, and very close to each other. Reproduction is studied outside French Polynesia. A grey egg (61 x 41 mm) is incubated for 25-26 days by both sexes. Chicks, once aged of 15 days, gather in nurseries, and are able to swim to escape danger.
Original text by Caroline BLANVILLAIN – Supplements and update by various members of the SOP Manu.
Scientific Name: Thalasseus bergii (Lichtenstein, 1823)
Tarapapa (Society), tara (North Tuamotu), tarara (Gambier)
Common species in Polynesia.