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10

Gull-billed Tern

(Gelochelidon nilotica)
Alternate name(s): "Long-legged Tern"
Size: 33-42 cm; wing span 75-90 cm
Weight: 150-290 g

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Gull-billed Tern at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "macrotarsa"

ADULT

BREEDING

Lateral view of a Gull-billed Tern in breeding plumage
[Near Old Bar, NSW, June 2011]

Near-frontal view of a Gull-billed Tern in breeding plumage in flight
[Goran Lake, NSW, April 2012]

Lateral view of Gull-billed Terns in both breeding and non-breeding plumage, with one smaller tern which looks, by its bill, to be a Common Tern
[Lee Point beach, Darwin, NT, August 2014]

Gull-billed Tern in flight, slightly different angle
[Goran Lake, NSW, April 2012]

Gull-billed Tern in breeding plumage seen in flight
[Near Old Bar, NSW, June 2011]

Lateral view of a Gull-billed Tern in breeding plumage, showing the upperwing pattern (left) and underwing pattern (right)
[Goran Lake, NSW, April 2012]

Gull-billed Tern in breeding plumage caught at a somewhat inconvenient moment...
[Goran Lake, NSW, April 2012]

NON-BREEDING

Gull-billed Tern in non-breeding plumage standing in shallow water; in this view the eye mask of the non-breeding plumage is clearly visible
[Goran Lake, NSW, April 2011]

Here the same Gull-billed Tern is seen digging something out of the mud
[Goran Lake, NSW, April 2011]

Near-dorsal view of a Gull-billed Tern in non-breeding plumage in flight
[Near Old Bar, NSW, June 2011]

Near-frontal view of a Gull-billed Tern in non-breeding plumage banking in flight
[Goran Lake, NSW, September 2012]

Lateral view of a Gull-billed Tern in non-breeding plumage in flight
[Goran Lake, NSW, September 2012]

Near-dorsal view of a Gull-billed Tern in non-breeding plumage in flight
[Goran Lake, NSW, September 2012]

Race "affinis"

ADULT

NON-BREEDING

Near-lateral view of a Gull-billed Tern in non-breeding plumage (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Lee Point, Darwin, NT, August 2013]

Near-lateral view of two Gull-billed Tern in non-breeding plumage resting on a beach (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Lee Point, Darwin, NT, August 2013]

Direct comparison of the sizes of two Gull-billed Terns in non-breeding plumage resting on a beach: race "macrotarsa", left, and race "affinis", right - note the difference in sizes; in the background a Caspian Tern in breeding plumage (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Lee Point, Darwin, NT, August 2013]

Food, Diet

As opposed to other terns, Gull-billed Terns feed on crabs, other crustaceans as well as grasshoppers, dragon flies and other insects that they take from sand dunes, sand bars, dry mudflats or the edges of inland lakes or dams.

Gull-billed Tern taking a mud crab it has scabbed from a Bar-tailed Godwit (slightly unsharp)
[Near Old Bar, NSW, June 2011]

Here the prey can be seen more clearly
[Near Old Bar, NSW, June 2011]

Gull-billed Tern with its prey
[Lee Point beach, Darwin, NT, August 2014]

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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