Common White Tern

(Sparrman, 1786)


Birds roost communally in the Downtown area of Diego Garcia, seeming to favour Ironwood Casuarina equisetifolia trees in well lit areas. Up to 40 birds will gather noisily in a single tree and can frequently be heard calling well after the sun has gone down.

Identification Guide:Unmistakeable. Its brilliant all-white colouration and very dark, large-looking eyes make it easy to identify, even at long ranges.

Status and Distribution:A common breeding resident throughout all atolls of the Territory. This beautiful and inquisitive bird is found everywhere, including islands that have been ecologically destroyed by coconut plantations and introduced rats. It is exceedingly difficult to gain an accurate population figure due to it not breeding communally and not building nests, however, the total BIOT breeding population was estimated at 610 pairs in 1996 and 603 in 2006. This estimate had not changed in 2010.