Little Terns: Courtship and after

posted in: Courtship-Mating | 1

The breeding season of Little Terns (Sterna albifrons) in Singapore starts from May to end in July. The first step involves pairing, after which courtship begins. Typical courtship behaviour involves the male bird bringing fish to his mate. This may continue for some time before the pair actually bonds. After all, the female has to be convinced of the male’s ability to provide for her and her brood during the period of egg incubation and after. Only then will copulation actually takes place.

This involves the female crouching and the male hopping on her, to make cloacal contact. This happens only for a brief period but mating may take place many times a day.

After copulation comes egg laying. The birds choose a piece of bare ground near water to lay the eggs. Once the nestlings fledge, both birds continue to feed them until the fledglings are able to care for themselves.

Meng and Melinda Chan were at the Neo Tiew area last year and brought back these dramatic images to share.

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