Bridled tern

The bridled tern (Onychoprion anaethetus)[2] is a seabird of the family Laridae. It is a bird of the tropical oceans. The scientific name is from Ancient Greek. The genus comes from onux meaning "claw" or "nail", and prion, meaning "saw". The specific anaethetus means "senseless, stupid".[3]

Bridled tern
Bridled Tern LEI Nov06.JPG
Adult on Lady Elliot Island, Australia
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Laridae
Genus: Onychoprion
O. anaethetus
Binomial name
Onychoprion anaethetus
(Scopoli, 1786)
Onychoprion anaethetus map.svg

Sterna anaethetus Scopoli, 1786

Onychoprion anaethetus - MHNT


This is a medium-sized tern, at 30–32 cm in length and with a 77–81 cm wingspan similar to the common tern in size, but more heavily built. The wings and deeply forked tail are long, and it has dark grey upperparts and white underparts. The forehead and eyebrows are white, as is a striking collar on the hindneck. It has black legs and bill. Juvenile bridled terns are scaly grey above and pale below.

This species is unlikely to be confused with any tern apart from the similarly dark-backed sooty tern and the spectacled tern from the Tropical Pacific. It is paler-backed than that sooty, (but not as pale as the grey-backed) and has a narrower white forehead and a pale neck collar.

Distribution and movementsEdit

This bird is migratory and dispersive, wintering more widely through the tropical oceans. It has markedly marine habits compared to most terns. The Atlantic subspecies melanopterus breeds in Mexico, the Caribbean and west Africa; other races occur around the Arabian Peninsula and in Southeast Asia and Australasia, but the exact number of valid subspecies is disputed. It is a rare vagrant to western Europe. These are the four subspecies listed by the IOC:


This species breeds in colonies on rocky islands. It nests in a ground scrape or hole and lays one egg. It feeds by plunge-diving for fish in marine environments, but will also pick from the surface like the black tern and the gull-billed tern. It usually dives directly, and not from the "stepped-hover" favoured by the Arctic tern. The offering of fish by the male to the female is part of the courtship display.

Lady Elliot Island, Qld, Australia

Various views and plumagesEdit


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2016). "Onychoprion anaethetus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22694730A93465819. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22694730A93465819.en.
  2. ^ Bridge, E. S.; Jones, A. W. & Baker, A. J. (2005). A phylogenetic framework for the terns (Sternini) inferred from mtDNA sequences: implications for taxonomy and plumage evolution Archived July 20, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 35: 459–469.
  3. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 46, 282. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.

External linksEdit