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With its long white moustache, found on both males and females, and its cackling call, the Inca tern is quite a character. A graceful flier, this seabird hovers over the water until it hones in on a small fish, such as an anchovy, just below the surface of the water. It then swoops down to grab the fish in its bright red bill.

Inca Tern standing on stump

Did You Know?

The Inca tern's most distinctive feature is their fancy white handlebar mustache. Scientists have hypothesized that the length of the Inca tern’s mustache may dictate the health of the bird; the longer the stash, the healthier the bird.

Quick Facts

Latin Name:
Larosterna inca

Coast and coastal islands of Chile and Peru

1.3 ft

Zoo Location:
Birds of the World

Small fish and marine invertebrates

Risk Status:
Species at Risk (IUCN—Lower risk/near threatened)