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Birding Málaga


Common name Whiskered tern
Scientific name Chlidonias hybridus
Type Seabirds
Status Migrator

Bird larger than other terns (about 29 cm or 11 in). Plumage in summer of homogeneous grey colour, except the face and the lower area of the tail and posterior belly, which are white. Black cap on the head up to the height of the eye that also extends along the nape. Very characteristic white cheeks. Bill and legs of a dark red tone. In winter pale grey back, wings and tail and white underparts, breast and head. The black cap is reduced to some dark stripes that start from the eye and go across the nape. White forehead.


Wetlands and Marine environment

Where it lives

Species linked to inland wetlands with large vegetal cover in the margins and emerging vegetation inside. Although it depends on the water level to breed, it usually chooses shallow wetlands. Frequent in lagoons, reservoirs, marshes and wetlands of clean waters, be them fresh or brackish.

How it lives

Bird that can be watched in the province only during its migratory passage. It breeds in colonies from May. Nests on floating emergent vegetation. Layings of 3 to 5 eggs. The Whiskered Tern feeds on insects, aquatic invertebrates, amphibians, crustaceans and small fish. It captures the prey by flying low over the water, without diving.

Where it can be seen in Malaga

The migratory displacements of this tern occur mainly inland, so it is detected only in continental wetlands and is barely observed on the coasts. It can be seen regularly at the mouth of the Guadalhorce and in the Campillos and Fuente de Piedra lagoons.

Curious facts

In Malaga it was very abundant years ago, this species and the other terns being known by the popular name of "paínos". It usually appears in good water years, when the lagoons have a nice amount of water and an acceptable depth in spring, something necessary for this tern to nest.

Similar birds
Wintering Summer Resident Migration