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The diver and the dancer Crested Tern

Hear all about it!

The Crested Tern is the most common tern on the Island. It is a very noisy bird sounding a rough throaty cry as it flies. The main nesting colonies are on Lake Baghdad and Lake Herschell and the birds can be heard at all times of the day and night. The nesting sites are very crowded. The nests are a single scrape in the ground and they are packed tightly.

These birds feed on fish which they catch by diving quickly into the water. The tern plucks the fish out of the water by seizing it just behind the head with its bill.

The Crested Tern has interesting courtship rituals. They put on impressive aerial displays where they dive, climb and zig zag in perfect close formation. As they do this, they make loud calls. On the ground, the male and female birds will “dance”. They circle around each other with their head crests raised and their wings held out away from the body and dropped downwards.

Where you can find a Crested Tern

Conservation Status

Listed as Least Concern under ICUN (2014). All Rottnest Island’s fauna is protected under the Rottnest Island Authority Act 1987.
  • Extinct
  • Extinct in Wild
  • Critically Endangered
  • Endangered
  • Vulnerable
  • Near Threatened
  • Least Concerned

Help keep Rottnest healthy

  • Do ride carefully on the Island
  • Do keep to designated tracks
  • Do enjoy watching them on their own terms

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We're always open to feedback on how we can improve Rottnest Island for our visitors and wildlife!