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White-fronted tern (Sterna striata)

White-fronted Tern
White-fronted terns are the most common terns in New Zealand and are most likely to be encountered on our tours. Their name is derived from a white band between the black cap and bill. The birds are plunge diving birds feeding almost exclusively on small fish, such as pilchards and smelt, which larger birds chase towards the surface.

The white-fronted tern breeds around New Zealand and on islands in the Bass Strait between Australia and Tasmania. They nest from October to January in large colonies nesting on sandy or rocky beaches, shingle beaches or rocky stacks. They lay one or two eggs, with the young fledging between 4-5 weeks old.

White-fronted terns can frequently be observed being targeted by skua, which chase them to get them to drop their food or to regurgitate their last meal. They can live up to 26 years.