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tara - white-fronted tern - Sterna striata | by Steve Attwood
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tara - white-fronted tern - Sterna striata

A series of photos of a courting white-fronted tern offering his mate to be a fish as a "marriage token". Taken in thick fog on the Ashley Estuary.

The white-fronted tern is the most common tern on the New Zealand coastline, at times occurring in flocks of many hundreds or even thousands of birds. It is mainly a marine species that is seldom found far from the coast. The name ‘white-fronted’ refers to the ‘frons’ or forehead, where a thin strip of white separates the black cap from the black bill. Most other ‘capped’ terns, including the black-fronted tern, have black caps that reach the bill when in breeding plumage. The scientific name striata refers to the finely-barred (striated) dorsal plumage of recently fledged white-fronted terns, as the original description and name was based on a juvenile bird painted by William Ellis, surgeon’s second mate on the Discovery, on Captain Cook’s third visit to New Zealand -


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Taken on October 12, 2014