If you love mustaches, you’ll be sure to love the Inca Tern!
Animal of the Week: Inca Tern Jun 09, 2013
This special seabird has a curious feature which looks like a white mustache on its face. This unique trait only develops later on in their lifetimes as the birds mature, which means that, unfortunately, they are not born with a fabulous mustache. When young, the tern’s feathers are purple-brown. As it matures, its plumage becomes dark grey and it grows its distinctive mustache. Inca Terns also have red-orange beaks and feet.
It is the only species in its genus and its scientific name
is Larosterna Inca. (On a slight
digression, this is called monotypic taxon-a group with only 1 biological type.) What is interesting is that if you
see this bird in the wild, you can have a pretty clear idea of where you are
geographically, as the Inca Tern only breeds on the coast of Peru and Chile, near the
In the cold waters of the Humboldt Current, the Inca Tern feeds on small fish such as squat lobsters and anchovies. They are excellent plunge divers, meaning that they hunt by finding prey in the water while they are flying, and then diving in to catch them.
The species is considered near threatened, with population estimates at only 150 000. From survey results, it has been noticed that the population of this bird has taken a rapid decline in recent years.
The Inca Tern also has a cat-like mewing sound as its call and lives in colonies of several thousands of birds.
By: Kelly Kong