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Inca tern

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Inca tern

Inca tern
Inca tern at Walsrode Bird Park, Germany, eating a fish
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Sternidae
Genus: Larosterna
Blyth, 1852
Species: L. inca
Binomial name
Larosterna inca
(Lesson, 1827)

The Inca tern (Larosterna inca) is a seabird in the family Sternidae. It is the only member of the genus Larosterna.

This uniquely plumaged bird breeds on the coasts of Peru and Chile, and is restricted to the Humboldt Current. It is an erratic, rare visitor to the southwest coast of Ecuador. It can be identified by its dark grey body, white moustache on both sides of its head, and red-orange beak and feet.


  • Description 1
  • Behaviour 2
    • Breeding 2.1
    • Feeding 2.2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


A family in Lima, Peru

The Inca tern is a large tern, approximately 40 cm long. Sexes are similar; the adult is mostly slate-grey with white restricted to the facial plumes and the trailing edges of the wings. The large bill and legs are dark red. Immature birds are purple-brown, and gradually develop the facial plumes.



The Inca tern breeds on rocky cliffs. It nests in a hollow or burrow or sometimes the old nest of a Humboldt penguin, and lays one or two eggs. The eggs are incubated for about 4 weeks, and the chicks leave the nest after 7 weeks.[2]


The Inca tern feeds primarily on small fish, such as anchovies. The species spots its prey from the air, diving into the water to grab meals with its pointed beak.[2] Its call is a cat-like mew.


  1. ^  
  2. ^ a b "Inca Tern Fact Sheet, Lincoln Park Zoo"
  • Harrison, Peter (1988): Seabirds (2nd edition). Christopher Helm, London ISBN 0-7470-1410-8

External links

  • Mundo Azul Species Factsheet: Inca tern
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