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Sooty Tern

SOOTY TERN
Photo Fred Jacq


APPEARANCE AND IDENTIFICATION
16-18 inches. Male and female identical in appearance. The top of the body is entirely black except the forehead with a white ‘’V’’ shaped spot from the forehead to the eyes. Differentiable from the Grey-backed Tern (Onychoprion lunatus). The rest of the body the Sooty Stern is white. The legs and beak are black. Young individuals have a dark brown plumage. Terns are graceful birds in flight, with a straight beak, sharp and tapered wings and a long forked tail. Their legs are short which makes them clumsy on the ground.

Order: Charadriiformes

Family: Laridae

Category: Seabirds


LOCATION

Tropical oceans. Tuamotu, Gambier, Marquesas and Society where there are huge colonies.


CHARACTERISTICS

Pelagic and gregarious in flight and on the ground, terns are able to hunt at sea (up to 1100 km away from the shore). They return on land to nest, usually on uninhabited coral or volcanic islands. The colonies are established on large platforms or on narrow terraces of vertical cliffs.

« ker-wak-wak », emitted generally in flight. Various alarm calls are transmitted over the colonies to signnal predators or human visitors.

To listen the Sooty Tern:
http://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Onychoprion-fuscatus

Crustaceans, small fishes and cephalopods from 2 to 8 cm.

In colonies. According to the regions, the species breeds throughout the year or only at certain times that are poorly defined and may vary in French Polynesia. Reproduction is studied outside French Polynesia. Nestting on the ground, the female lays a white-pink egg mottled with purple and brown (53 x 36 mm). Incubation lasts for 29 days. Young flies of the nest after 70 days. The latter returns often at night in the colonies.

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

Bibliography:
https://inpn.mnhn.fr/espece/cd_nom/528760
http://avibase.bsc-eoc.org/species.jsp?avibaseid=3E7F825D03C0DC3E
http://www.oiseaux.net/oiseaux/sterne.fuligineuse.html
http://ifrecor-doc.fr/items/show/1283
http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/sooty-tern-onychoprion-fuscatus
http://www.hbw.com/ibc/species/sooty-tern-onychoprion-fuscatus
https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22694740/132571340

NAMES

Scientific Name: Onychoprion fuscatus (Linnaeus, 1766)

Polynesian Names:
Kaveka (Society, Marquesas, Tuamotu), tara (Mangareva, Ua Pou), taraka (Ua Pou), ta’a, tara (Hiva Oa et Tahuata)

LOCATION
  • Tropical Oceans

STATUS AND PROTECTION

This is probably the most abundant bird in the Southeast Polynesia.

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