Tern, Inca


Larosterna inca


The body is dark grey with a red bill and legs, and the tips of the wings are white. It also has a white moustache-like ornamental plume just below the eye in males and females.

Family

Laridae

Order

Charadriformes

Class

Aves

Range

Along the Pacific coast of South America, from Northern Peru to South and Central Chile

Habitat

Mainly found on in-shore “Guano Islands”. Typically along rocky coasts or where sandy beaches are backed by cliffs.

Life Expectancy

Unknown

Sexual Maturity

Unknown

Diet

In the wild they are surface feeders feeding mainly on small fish like anchovies but also on crustaceans. They often follow fishing boats and surfacing sea lions looking for scraps.

Status

IUCN - Near Threatened

Behaviors

Forages mainly by plunge-diving and surface dipping for their prey. Feeding flocks can consist of up to 5,000 birds. The male often performs courtship displays while he and the female are in the air. Inca Terns nest on rocky sea cliffs and guano islands, or abandoned Humboldt penguin nests. They lay 1-2 speckled coffee colored eggs, which take about 4 weeks to hatch. It takes the chicks about 7 weeks to leave the nest. Vocalization is a high pitched laughing or cackling sound often in conjunction with bowing or other displays. Inca Terns seem to take up permanent residence, and do not typically migrate.

Adaptions

Special Interests

Numbers of Inca Terns fluctuate from year to year depending on food availability in relation to El Nino. Populations decrease in severe occurrences of El Nino, but it is assumed to be caused by a mass emigration to other areas rather than starvation.

Folklore

Conservation

Although they are not listed as endangered or threatened in the wild, they are listed as a PMP (population management program) for captive populations.

Jacksonville Zoo History

Exhibit

Emerald Forest Aviary