213 Whiskered Tern
(Chlidonias hybrida)


24-28cm. Larger, longer-legged and often stronger-billed than other marsh terns, and flight action less ‘nimble’; plumage can recall Common/Arctic Tern, so shallow tail-fork and greyish rump and tail important to note. Adult summer: Breast and belly dark grey, contrasting strongly with white cheek and underwing-coverts; bill dark red; legs red. Can look quite pale at long range. - Adult winter: Rear crown finely streaked black, and a solid black patch behind eye; told from Black Tern by dark smudge at breast-sides being faint or lacking, from White-winged Tern by plainer upperwing lacking any contrastingly darker outer primaries.


The Whiskered Tern is a colonial breeder of marshes, oxbow lakes and fishponds with fluctuating population, has been regarded the most common marsh tern in Hungary since the 1970s. The largest breeding colonies can be found in the Hortobágy, in the southern Great Plain and at the Kis-Balaton, but it is also known to breed in the Kiskunság and oxbow lakes along the Tisza River and in many alkali lakes east of it. Migrants occur between early April and mid-May in the spring and from late August to late September in the Autumn. At Lake Balaton and in the southern Great Plain some individuals can be observed as late as November and December.

213 Whiskered Tern pic

© Graphics by Szabolcs Kókay

Source: 1) Lovászi Péter (editor): Javasolt különleges madárvédelmi területek Magyarországon, Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület, 2002; 2) BirdLife International:IUCN Red List for birds. Species factsheet; 3) Králl Attila, Nagy Károly: Fontos Madárélőhelyek Magyarországon (Területek, kritériumok és minősítő fajok) MME Monitoring Központ, 2007; 4) Szabolcs Kókay bird illustrations; 5) www.hungarianbirdwatching.com bird descriptions and checklists, 2004-2012; 6) Lars Svensson et al.: Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe 2nd Edition, Harper Collins, 2010; 7) MME Nomenclator Bizottság: Nomenclator avium Hungariae. An annotated list of the birds of Hungary. Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület, 2008