New reports on ruru nesting and Island conservation

Date posted: 02-Oct-2017

Two new reports have been added to the website. The first gives details of a summer students..

2018 calendars now available

Date posted: 27-Sep-2017

Our latest calendar, beautifully illustrated with images taken on the Island, is now available fo..

Guided walks for photographers

Date posted: 21-Jun-2017

For a wonderful day of wildlife photography please join us on Tiritiri Matangi Island for a Ph..

Ferry discounts for Supporters

Date posted: 18-May-2017

Tiritiri Matangi Island, the perfect winter's day trip. The birds are at their best, warm up w..

More kiwi for the Island

Date posted: 04-Apr-2017

In 1993 and 1995, sixteen little spotted kiwi were released on Tiritiri Matangi Island. The ma..

2017 Photo Competition

Date posted: 22-Mar-2017

It is that time of year again when we are looking for entries for our photo competition (and phot..

The 2017 concert

Date posted: 05-Feb-2017

This year's concert promises to be another wonderful and unique experience. Click here (/concert-..

Shorebird Film Festival at Devonport

Date posted: 26-Oct-2016

Click here (/miscellaneous documents/DevWaderFilms.jpg) for details of a forthcoming film festival c..

Extra Dawn Chorus Trip

Date posted: 20-Oct-2016

Stop Press: Extra Dawn Chorus trip now scheduled for Thursday 27th October 2016. ..

2016 AGM

Date posted: 06-Sep-2016

The 2016 AGM was held at the Kohia Centre at 7:30 pm on Monday 19th September. Click here (/..

Caspian Tern 

Scientific name:

 Hydroprogne caspia

Maori Name:

 Taranui

 

 

Conservation status

 Native, Threatened, Nationally vulnerable

National population:

1300-1400 breeding pairs

Size:

 51cm, 700g

Lifespan:

 24 years possibly

Breeding:

 September - January

Diet:

 Small live fish and eels

Caspian Tern and chickThe Caspian Tern is the largest of all terns, more like a gull in size. The heavy silver-grey body has white underparts with dark tips to the under wing and a short white forked tail. The massive red bill is tipped black and yellow. The adult has a black cap when breeding, which becomes flecked with white in non-breeding plumage. A slight crest at the back of the head gives it a triangular look.  The call is a loud harsh ‘kaaa’. 

Caspian terns feed mainly on small surface-swimming fish such as yellow–eyed mullet, smelt, piper, small flounder and inland species such as whitebait, bullies, trout and small eels. All are caught by plunging into the water (often fully submerging) at a steep angle from a height of 8–10 metres above the surface. 

Breeding takes place between late September and early December, usually in large loose colonies in harbours or among sand dunes.  Some pairs nest in isolation on small island beaches, shingle riverbeds or on lake shores. The nest is a shallow, unlined scrape in the sand, in which the female lays 1-3 light stone-coloured eggs with dark brown spots. Both adults incubate for 26–28 days and brood the chicks for the first 5–10 days after hatching. The chicks fledge at 33–38 days and continue to be fed by their parents for several months. 

At least one pair of Caspian terns has been known to breed regularly in the vicinity of Tiritiri Matangi. They are often seen on or around the wharf.

Discover more about Caspian terns at New Zealand Birds On-line.

Photography by Max McRae © (adult on nest) and Kay Milton © (juvenile with parent on Tiritiri Matangi wharf)

References: Heather, B.D.; Robertson, H.A. 2000 The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. Auckland, Viking. Moon, G The Reed Field Guide to New Zealand Birds.