• Scientific Name: Onychoprion lunatus (Peale, 1848)
  • Polynesian Names: Ore ore (Scilly), kaveka (Tuamotu), tara, ta’a (Marquises)
  • Order: Charadriiformes
  • Family: Laridae
  • CategorySeabirds
  • Distribution: Society, Tuamotu, Marquesas (Eiao, Hatuta’a, Mohotani, Fatu Huku) – Hawaii, Micronesia, Fidji & Whole Polynesia.

Appearance and identification

15 inches. Male and female identical in appearance. It is a small tern with the grey top body, a white forehead and dark wings edges. The rest of the body is white. Unlike the sooty tern (Onychoprion fuscatus), the white area of the forehead covers the side of the head. The beak and legs are black. Its sharp, tapered wings and long forked tail are characteristic of terns.

Videos

Voice

Characteristics

Nests in the Marquesas and the Tuamotu and perhaps Scilly (Company) but also in Hawaii, the Phoenix Islands (Christmas) and the Line. Common in tropical and central area of the Pacific Ocean.

Lays a single egg (43 x 33 mm). Breeds in scattered small colonies.

Feeds near the islands where it nests. This bird is pelagic outside the breeding season.

Call similar, in softer, the one of the Sooty Tern.

Fishes, cephalopods and insects that it captures while diving.

Location

Nests in the Marquesas and the Tuamotu and perhaps Scilly (Company) but also in Hawaii, the Phoenix Islands (Christmas) and the Line. Common in tropical and central area of the Pacific Ocean.

Breeding

Lays a single egg (43 x 33 mm). Breeds in scattered small colonies.

Habitat

Feeds near the islands where it nests. This bird is pelagic outside the breeding season.

Voice

Call similar, in softer, the one of the Sooty Tern.

Food

Fishes, cephalopods and insects that it captures while diving.

Status and protection

The species is classified as “Least Concern” (LC) on the IUCN Red List but « Endangered » (EN) on the France and Polynesia 2015 UICN Red List.

Original text by Caroline BLANVILLAIN – Supplements and update by various members of the SOP Manu.