Guardian Nature School Team Contact Blog Project Noah Facebook Project Noah Twitter

A global community of nature enthusiasts
photographing and learning about wildlife

Join Project Noah!
nature school apple icon

Project Noah Nature School visit nature school

Crested Terns (adult with juvenile)

Thalasseus bergii ssp. cristata (syn. Sterna bergii ssp. cristata)


These birds are known as "crested terns" in Australia, and I feel fortunate to have spotted them. Both were birds I wanted to see, and that's just as well because they were the only two around. One is an adult with breeding plumage, and the other is a juvenile with its heavily-mottled or barred plumage. I'd never noticed a juvenile before, nor the adult's breeding plumage. These birds belong to the family Laridae, which also includes gulls and skimmers. During the breeding season, the adult has a distinctive black cap with a long crest, white neck and underparts, and a grey back and upperwing. In contrast, the non-breeding adult has a white crown with limited dark spotting, but its hind-crown remains black. The large bill is greenish-yellow to yellow, and the legs are black. Here's a previous spotting of a crested turn's non-breeding plumage. Honestly, there's not a great deal of difference, although the black cap is noticeably less-defined - There are five subspecies globally, but the local subspecies T.b.cristata, ranges from Australia to PNG, and into southeast Asia. Everything else you could ever want to know about this species can be found at the reference links. Wikipedia is extensive.


Spotted on the sea wall at Bobbin Head, on Cowan Creek. This waterway is a saltwater tributary of the Hawkesbury River and Broken Bay, on the northern outskirts of Sydney. Bobbin Head lies within steep terrain that is heavily wooded, in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Native vegetation runs right down to the rocky shores along the entirety of creek. Cowan Creek is very deep and tidal, and apart from leaf litter and debris from surrounding bushland, is very clean. Many species of fish are abundant. Here's some park info -


Conservation status is secure in all Australian states and territories, with the exception of Victoria where its status is near threatened (NT).

Species ID Suggestions

Sign in to suggest organism ID

No Comments

Neil Ross
Spotted by
Neil Ross

Sydney, NSW, Australia

Spotted on Mar 28, 2019
Submitted on Apr 5, 2019

Noah Guardians
Noah Sponsors
join Project Noah Team

Join the Project Noah Team