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Common White Tern

COMMON WHITE TERN

Photo Denis Saulnier


APPEARANCE AND IDENTIFICATION
Gygis blanche- Rangiroa - Photo Alexandre Champarnaud

Gygis blanche_Rangiroa @ Alexandre Champarnaud

12 inches. Male and female identical in appearance. All-white bird with a forked tail and pointed wings. The beak is straight and pointed, its base is blue on 1/3 of the length. Large black eyes. Its end is black. The flight is fluttering. These birds tend to fly over the visitors who approach their nesting site.

Order: Charadriiformes

Family: Laridae

Category: Seabirds


LOCATION

Society, Austral, Tuamotu, Marquesas (Eiao Hatutaa, Mohotani, Fatu Huku) but also Hawaii, Micronesia, Fiji and the whole of Polynesia.

Gygis_Tahanea - Photo Jean Kape

Gygis blanche_Tahanea @ Jean Kape


CHARACTERISTICS

Nests isolated or in colony of coral islands, the coast of the large islands or several kilometres inland.

Gygis blanche_ Rangiroa @ Jean-Paul Mutz

Gygis blanche_ Rangiroa @ Jean-Paul Mutz

« Koui-koui-koui-koui » high-pitched and repeated frequently by individuals flying over colonies or nesting areas.

To listen the Common White Tern:
http://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Gygis-alba

Fish from 3 to 10 cm, cephalopods, sometimes it captures insects by diving. They hunt alone or in small groups.

Never builds a nest. Lays one egg on small branches. Egg’s size are around 41 x 30 mm. Its colour is very changeable. The tones change from white to buff with blackish-brown and grey with various shapes. This egg is incubated for 36 days and the young fly off the nest after 60-75 days, less the Tuamotu (48 days). The species breeds throughout the year, from August to June Gambier.

Gygis blanche_juvénile@Richard Février

Gygis blanche_juvénile@Richard Février

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

Bibliography:
https://inpn.mnhn.fr/espece/cd_nom/440187
http://avibase.bsc-eoc.org/species.jsp?avibaseid=05C7074BFEEFB5A9
http://www.oiseaux.net/oiseaux/gygis.blanche.html
http://ifrecor-doc.fr/items/show/1283
http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/common-white-tern-gygis-alba
http://www.hbw.com/ibc/species/common-white-tern-gygis-alba
https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22694821/132576063

NAMES

Scientific Name: Gygis alba (Sparrman, 1786)

Polynesian Name:
Itatae, itata’e, ita’eat’e, irara’e, pira’e tea, pira’-tea, pira’e, ita’e (Society), kirarahu, kirahu (Tuamotu), kotake (Mangareva), kota’e, kotake, otae (Marquesas), take take(Rapa), aaia (Tubuai), a’ahia (Rimatara)

LOCATION
  • Polynesia
  • Hawaii
  • Micronesia
  • Fiji

STATUS AND PROTECTION

The species is classified as “Least Concern” (LC) on the IUCN Red List.