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Inca Tern

Continent: South America
Habitat:  Rocky coastal areas and in shore island.
Weight and wingspan: 200g, 60cm


Diet: Carnivore (Eats Meat)
Gestation: 28 days


Conservation Status: NT


  • They do not develop their red legs, red beak and their trademark white moustaches until they are 1-2 years old.
  • Moustache length seems to be related to healthiness. The healthiest birds have the longest moustaches.
  • Their large wings and small feet make them excellent flyers but relatively poor swimmers.
  • They feed by plunge diving from the air, swooping after brief flight above prey and also by surface-dipping.
  • They follow fishing boats and are often associated with sea lions and whales while feeding, stealing some food from the marine mammals.
  • Feeds at a different water depth to the Humboldt penguin and so the two can coexist.

Inca Tern

Larosterna inca

Animals — Aves (birds) — Charadriiformes (small to medium birds found near water) — Sternidae (terns)

Inca Terns are an extremely social bird, living and resting in huge colonies of up to several thousand birds. They are striking due to their blue-grey plumage, red beaks, and unusual white moustaches.

They will breed twice a year, with the males performing agile flight displays to impress females. Males will also take part in courtship feeding, following a female in the air with a fish in his beak. Once a male and female have paired, they pick a nesting site, normally in crevices and abandoned burrows. They can also nest in abandoned buildings.

They are near threatened, and appear to have suffered a severe population drop relatively recently due to a large El Niño storm that caused fish to flee to cooler areas. Their biggest current threat is over-fishing, which reduces fish available for them to eat. Guano production can also reduce available nesting sites, and rats and cats may eat eggs and young.

Habitat: Breeds on coasts with rocky cliffs and sandy beaches, as well as in shore guano islands. They are endemic to the Humboldt current area.

Vital Statistics:
–Average weight: 200g
–Average wingspan: 60cm

Life Expectancy:
In the wild up to: 14 years
In captivity up to: 20 years

Diet: They eat fish, mostly small species such as anchovies.

Distribution: Found on the west coast of South America, from Ecuador and Peru to Chile

How we are Protecting Wild Animals
Once a common sight, local vultures and penguins have suffered from centuries of habitat loss, persecution, food loss and nest destruction.

We are working in an area of North West Peru in the Illescas Reserve. It is home to many threatened birds, including Andean condors, sever types of vulture, and the endangered Humboldt Penguin.

Human activity in the area has resulted in habitat destruction and pollution, with many of the local birds also being threatened by poaching and overfishing. Without areas to nest in and food to eat, wild populations were dropping at alarming rates.

The APCPP protects the beaches from human disruption, and patrols the coastline to prevent illegal fishing. We also rescue and rehabilitate penguins to be released into the wild, and set up feeding stations to ensure the survival of these species. The APCPP is solely funded by Safari Zoo Nature Foundation.

Safari Zoo Animals Protected by This Project

Other Wild Animals Protected by This Project