What type of Bird am I ?

What type of Bird am I?

These photographs were taken on the barge ride between River Heads (the mainland) and K’Gari (Fraser Island) in Queensland, Australia. This barge ride take about an hour.

Fraser Island vehicle barges and passenger ferry services run daily from River Heads, south of Hervey Bay to World Heritage-listed K’Gari (Fraser Island).


What type of Tern am I?

I am a Tern! So what type of Tern am I?



The two pieced tail – these are called ‘tail streamers’

It is difficult to identify the species of tern without being able to see the back view or all of their features like leg colour. These bird were flying the entire time I was observing them.

Terns that are are regularly recorded in this locality where these birds were sighted include the Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Roseate Tern, White-fronted tern and Black-naped Tern.

However the birds we sighted had an orange/yellow bill and all the previously listed species have a black bill.

The Fairy Tern is not usually found in Wide Bay Queensland. This bird is distinguished from similar birds by its rounded belly, orange yellow bill, a white forehead in early breeding with the speckled black head marking not reaching the bill. These features match the birds sighted. This species breeds August to January. This specimen was sighted in late July so early breeding markings would be developing at that time

The Lesser-crested Tern is also called the tern of the tropics. It was believed to range north (or above) the Tropic of Capricorn. However it is now accepted in bird field guildes that there habitat extends further south to the area these birds were seen and further south to Brisbane. The features of the Lesser Crested Tern matches the birds seen particularly the speckled crown if the birds were non-breeding. Their head markings differ when breeding. The Lesser-crested Tern breeds September to December in the east and south of its range where there specimens were sighted. In late July Lesser-crested Terns at that location would have non-breeding plumage.

Therefore the identification can only be decided by leg colour.The Fairy tern has yellow legs and the Lesser-crested Tern has black legs. Unfortunately the legs cannot be seen. So I went back to the photos to see if there was a clear leg shot anywhere …..


I cannot wait to visit that area again in the hope of seeing these birds again.

Cheers Amanda

Head markings are important for identification
Lesser Crested Tern: Head markings are important for identification.

8 thoughts on “What type of Bird am I ?

  1. I like reading your post. I like your analysis of the bird Tern and the different types. I don’t know much about birds although I like them. The only kind I know are doves, love birds and canaries. At one time I tried to breed love birds. I started with just a pair and ended up with 35 pairs until I started giving them away as gifts because I did not want to maintain them anymore. I just wanted the experience and watching them hatch and grow before my eyes, how they change their colors. Its beautiful. Birds are magnificent creatures. Thanks for sharing your photos.

  2. I have never heard of this bird, the “Tern” I live in Western Australia, can you tell me do we get this type of bird here. I love birds, I could just sit there for hours and watch them, I find this very relaxing. You managed to get some really good photos of the birds as well. It is amazing at how many types of birds we have in Australia.

    1. Thanks Kerry for your question

      We don’t think Tern’s migrate to WA but still keeping an eye out for more info on that

      Great to hear from another bird lover

      Kerrie and Amanda

  3. I love birds, and these ones are no exception! I really enjoy watching even the most common ones like morning doves, they are so adorable and kind of funny, I don’t know how to put it. This Tern is a great bird too! I wish I could see it in person but Australia is so far haha. Hope you have a nice day and will be looking for more of your photos!

  4. Hello,
    Thank you for for post it was great and really interesting for as I didn’t know anything about this kind of bird, I’M really interested in animals, just one thing I need some more information about that kind But I could not find it such as their size, weight and how do they live? in groups or not.
    Thank you again for that post.
    Best wishes and good luck.

    1. Hi Kaveh

      Thanks for the question, Birds are notoriously variable in size. The Tern family are considered medium sized birds.

      My research shows this sizing: They have a length of 28–39 cm (11–15 in) and a wingspan of 65–75 cm (26–30 in)

      They tend to live in large and somewhat noisy colonies.

      Glad you like animals too!

      Good luck and all the best to you as well.


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