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Alice Springs Waste Stabilisation Ponds

The Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia) is the world’s largest tern, measuring approximately 48–60 cm in length, and a wingspan of 127–145 cm.

The adult birds have black legs, and a long thick red-orange bill with a black tip. They have a white head with a black cap and white neck, belly, and tail. The Capsian Tern upper wings and back are pale grey and the underwings are pale with dark primary feathers. When in flight, the tail is less forked than seen in other terns, and the wingtips are black on the underside. The black cap is still present in winter (unlike many other terns), but with some white streaking on the forehead.

Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida), Alice Springs Sewage Ponds
Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida), Alice Springs Sewage Ponds

The Caspian Tern feed mainly on fish, sighting them whilst hovering high over the water and then diving into the water to catch the prey. They are also known to eat insects, the eggs and young of other birds and rodents.

Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia), Alice Springs Sewage Ponds, NT © Dorothy Latimer
Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia), Alice Springs Sewage Ponds, NT © Dorothy Latimer
Birds at the Ponds, including Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia), Alice Springs Sewage Ponds, NT © Dorothy Latimer
Birds at the Ponds, including Caspian Tern, Alice Springs Sewage Ponds, NT © Dorothy Latimer

  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Vertebrata
  • Informal: Gnathostomata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Charadriiformes
  • Family: Laridae
  • Subfamily: Sterninae
  • Tribe: Sternini
  • Genus: Hydroprogne
  • Species: Hydroprogne caspia

Footnote & References

  1. Hydroprogne caspia (Pallas, 1770), Caspian Tern, Atlas of Living Australia, https://bie.ala.org.au/species/https://biodiversity.org.au/afd/taxa/da1e1bf2-3684-4eea-b579-1d83507c020d

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