Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Bridled Tern

Once again it is Wednesday and as usual I am posting an Australian bird. Today it is the turn of the Bridled Tern.  These shots are all taken when I was on a boat going out to the Barrier Reef, Queensland to snorkel.

The Bridled Tern - Onychoprion anaethetus, formerly Sterna anaethetus -  is a seabird of the tern family Sternidae. It is a bird of the tropical oceans.

This is a medium-sized tern, at 30–32 cm in length and with a 77–81 cm wingspan similar to the Common Tern in size, but more heavily built. The wings and deeply forked tail are long, and it has dark grey upper parts and white underparts. The forehead and eyebrows are white, as is a striking collar on the hind neck. It has black legs and bill. Juvenile Bridled Terns are scaly grey above and pale below.

This species is unlikely to be confused with any tern apart from the similarly dark-backed Sooty Tern and the Spectacled Tern from the Tropical Pacific. It is paler-backed than that Sooty, (but not as pale as the Grey-backed) and has a narrower white forehead and a pale neck collar.

This species breeds in colonies on rocky islands. It nests in a ground scrape or hole and lays one egg. It feeds by plunge-diving for fish in marine environments, but will also pick from the surface like the Black Tern and the Gull-billed Tern. It usually dives directly, and not from the "stepped-hover" favoured by the Arctic Tern. The offering of fish by the male to the female is part of the courtship display.

This bird is migratory and dispersive, wintering more widely through the tropical oceans. It has markedly marine habits compared to most terns. The Atlantic subspecies melanopters breeds in Mexico, the Caribbean and west Africa; other races occur around the Arabia and in Southeast Asia and Australasia, but the exact number of valid subspecies is disputed. It is a rare vagrant to western Europe.

 These birds were on the platform that we were going to land on and so when we drew close to them, they dispersed. 
This is the only time I even saw this Tern.
I hope you enjoyed seeing this bird and I wonder how many have seen it? 
Let me know if you have seen it and where? 

Tomorrow I hope to show you the photographs I took as I flew over the Barrier Reed area in a helicopter.  A once in a life time experience.
Thank you for visiting my post today and for leaving comments on any of my blogs yesterday.  

I am hoping on Thursday to have some time to go back and look at our blogs that I have missed.  That should keep me out of mischief for a while!!

I am linking this post to Wild Bird Wednesday.


  1. Great photos of the Bridled Terns. I think they are usually found a little further north from where I live in SE Queensland.

  2. I've never seen one and wouldn't know if I had unfortunately, those three on the bouys? look like they are travelling along on something, going somewhere..fabulous shots Margaret (I'm back blogging couldn't stay away)

  3. Beautiful little birds I wasn't aware of... many thanks for sharing them.

  4. It's a very elegant looking bird. I've never seen it.

  5. A lovely tern and you got some great shots there Margaret. Where there are buoys there are always terns to look out for I reckon.

  6. I too have seen it - and again it was heading out to the Barrier Reef. Which provides such richness and diversity. Stunning photos - thank you.

  7. Great shots of these beautiful birds.

  8. What a lovely Tern species. As Stuart says in the reply above..... you have got to love them, fantastic family of birds.

    Nice post Margaret

  9. Doing what any Tern would do, standing on a buoy in the sea, well taken Margaret.

  10. What charming birds these are! Great shots!

  11. Nice photos, Margaret, and interesting information, too.