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Southwest ecological burns important for orange-bellied parrot conservation


Planned ecological burns in Southwest National Park will help regenerate important habitat areas for the critically endangered orange-bellied parrot.More

Upgraded Julius River bridges improve visitor access


Bridge upgrades at the Julius River Regional Reserve are now complete.More

Viewing platform upgrades for Rocky Cape's Aboriginal heritage sites


Two viewing platforms have been replaced as part of visitor facility improvements at Rocky Cape National Park on the North-West Coast. The platforms are at the Lee Archer Cave and South Cave sites, which have highly significant Aboriginal heritage values.More

Crested Tern, Sterna bergii


The Crested Tern is the second largest of the terns found in Tasmania (430-480mm) and one of the most commonly seen.

It has a white body, pale grey wings and back, pale yellow bill and black legs. The tail is forked.

During the breeding season, it has a black crown with a black crest which can be raised. During the non-breeding season, the cap becomes mottled. Adult males and females are identical in appearance.

The juveniles have mottled or barred brown upperparts.

The Crested Tern differs from the similar Caspian Tern - the  largest of the terns - which has a massive red bill.


Crested Terns occur singularly or in flocks in coastal areas, estuaries, inlets, islands and occassionally on large inland lakes or rivers. They are often seen perching with gulls on beaches, sand spits or jetties.


The Crested Tern feeds mainly on small surface fish. Birds typically plunge downwards into the water to grab prey behind the head. They will also take squid, crabs, insects and other aquatic prey. 


The breeding season runs from November to March. Crested Terns nest in colonies ranging from a few to thousands of pairs on low offshore islands, often with other terns or gulls.

The nest is a shallow scrape in the ground, or among rocks or low vegetation. Usually a single egg is laid, sometimes two. Incubation lasts for 25 to 30 days and is carried out by both sexes, and both sexes care for the young. The chick fledges after around 38 to 40 days but remains dependent on it its parents for a further three months.


A "kirrick" is often heard among breeding birds.
Distribution Map courtesy Natural Values Atlas, data from theLIST
© 2010 State of Tasmania


Crested Terns are widespread from the south coast of Africa north to Asia, south to Australia and east to Polynesia. They also occur on many islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

In Tasmania, the Crested Tern occurs mainly throughout the eastern and northern coasts and the Bass Strait islands.