basic information

Whiskered Tern

Chlidonias hybrida (Pallas, 1811)

Белощекая крачка | Ақжағал қарқылдақ

Zhanatan (Balagan). Western Kazakhstan.
© Askar Isabekov


The adult Whiskered Terns in breeding plumage have black crown; upperparts are slaty-grey fluently lighting to tail; wings and tail are pale-grey. Chin and cheeks are white. Craw and breast dark-grey, belly is blackish. Underwings and undertail are white. Bill and legs are red. Eyes are reddish-brown. In winter plumage the mantle is very pale greyish-ashy; all other parts are white; dark-brown strip passes through the eye; there are narrow black core-streaks on the crown. Bill and legs are brownish. Juvenile are similar to winter adults but have dark-brown with buffy edges feathers on the head and mantle; buffy edges are broader on shoulders feathers. Sizes: wing 225-250 mm, tarsus 27 – 34 mm, bill 27-34 mm.


Whiskered Tern sporadically breeds and occurs on migration in southern half of plain part of Kazakhstan in north to lower reaches of Ilek and Turgay rivers and Semipalatinsk. It observed at June 20 2001 on Sary-Moiyn lake in Naurzum Reserve; and in Kurgaldzhino it collected 16 June 1958, it undoubtedly bred at droughty summer of 2000 in Alakol depression. Two nests were found in May 31 - June 01 2003 at Tentek river delta.


Whiskered Tern is rare, in places accidental breeding migrant. It inhabits fresh lakes, ponds, river creeks with plenty coastal vegetation and nearby open deep-water parts. Appears in end April - May, spring migration finishes in early June. Breeding in colonies of 50-300 pairs usually together with White-winged Tern, Black-necked Grebe or Black Tern, or by separate pairs in colonies of other terns. Nest is built on water vegetation (on leaves of nenuphar, for example), heaps of reed stems or on tussocks among reed-bed, from dry grass. Clutches of 2-3 eggs founded in end May - early July. Both parents incubate for 18-20 days and feed juveniles, which begin to fly at the age more than 20 days old. Flying juveniles recorded in early July - August. Autumn migration is not clear. Whiskered Terns leave breeding area in August, but some individuals linger up to early September.


Chlidonias hybrida hybrida (Pallas, 1811)


"Птицы Казахстана" том 2. Алма-Ата, 1962.
Э.И.Гаврилов. "Фауна и распространение птиц Казахстана". Алматы, 1999.
Gavrilov E. I., Gavrilov A. E. "The Birds of Kazakhstan". Almaty, 2005.



Chlidonias hybrida hybrida
(Pallas, 1811)

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