Little Terns: Feeding of the juveniles

on 19th August 2006

Allan Teo has been observing a group of Little Terns (Sterna albifrons) comprising of adults and juveniles somewhere in the western part of Singapore. He was fascinated by how disciplined the juveniles were when the parent bird brought fish to feed them.

“We observed a mother tern catering to two juveniles of about the same age. When one juvenile was hungry, it ‘ruffled’ its feathers and made a loud cry to the mother.

“The mother bird would take off and hunt, while the juvenile waited along the shore stretching its wing or wading in the water.

“When the mother returned with a fish, both juveniles ruffled their feathers and gave loud cries. However, the mother knew exactly which juvenile had asked for the fish and would only hand over the fish to the requesting bird.

“There was no struggle between the siblings for the fish. The receiving juvenile took its time to swallow the fish, confident that its sibling would not snatch it away.

“I was waiting for a fight to occur but none materialised. The siblings remained where they were.

“The mother bird was observed feeding the juveniles one at a time as each /little-terns-courtship-and-after.html”>after.

Input and images by Allan Teo.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

4 Responses

  1. The sexes are difficult to differentiate and I suppose the term ‘mother’ in the text may actually mean ‘father’ as well?

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