WHITE FRONTED TERN
Sterna striata Gmelin, 1789
New Zealand status: Native
Conservation status: Declining
Other names: tara, kahawai bird, sea-swallow, swallow tail, black-billed tern, whitefronted tern, white fronted tern
The white-fronted tern is the most common tern on the New Zealand coastline, at times occurring in flocks of many hundreds or even thousands of birds. It is mainly a marine species that is seldom found far from the coast.
The name ‘white-fronted’ refers to the ‘frons’ or forehead, where a thin strip of white separates the black cap from the black bill. Most other ‘capped’ terns, including the black-fronted tern, have black caps that reach the bill when in breeding plumage.
The scientific name striata refers to the finely-barred (striated) dorsal plumage of recently fledged white-fronted terns, as the original description and name was based on a juvenile bird painted by William Ellis, surgeon’s second mate on the Discovery, on Captain Cook’s third visit to New Zealand.
Read more at NZ BIRDS ONLINE