Inca tern

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Inca tern
Larosterna inca (Inca Tern - Inkaseeschwalbe) Weltvogelpark Walsrode 2012-015.jpg
Inca tern at Walsrode Bird Park, Germany, eating a fish
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Laridae
Genus: Larosterna
Blyth, 1852
L. inca
Binomial name
Larosterna inca
(Lesson, 1827)
Larosterna inca map.svg

The Inca tern (Larosterna inca) is a tern in the family Laridae. It is the only member of the genus Larosterna.

This uniquely plumaged bird breeds on the coasts of Peru and Chile, and is restricted to the Humboldt Current. In 2020 a single Inca Tern successfully made the south shore of Oahu, Hawaii, its home. It is an erratic, rare visitor to the southwest coast of Ecuador. It can be identified by its dark grey body, white moustache on both sides of its head, and red-orange beak and feet.


A family in Lima, Peru
An Inca tern moving around in captivity

The Inca tern is a large tern, approximately 40 cm (16 in) long. Sexes are similar; the adult is mostly slate-grey with white restricted to the facial plumes and the trailing edges of the wings. The large bill and legs are dark red. Immature birds are purple-brown, and gradually develop the facial plumes.



The Inca tern breeds on rocky cliffs. It nests in a hollow or burrow or sometimes the old nest of a Humboldt penguin, and lays one or two eggs. The eggs are incubated for about 4 weeks, and the chicks leave the nest 7-8 weeks after hatching.[2]


The Inca tern feeds primarily on small fish, such as anchovies. The species spots its prey from the air, diving into the water to grab meals with its pointed beak.[2] Its call is a catlike mew.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Larosterna inca". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Inca Tern Fact Sheet, Lincoln Park Zoo"
  • Harrison, Peter (1988): Seabirds (2nd edition). Christopher Helm, London ISBN 0-7470-1410-8

External links[edit]