First two days in the life of a Little Tern chick

on 12th August 2009

The nest of a pair of Little Tern (Sterna albifrons) by a man-made cycling track had three eggs in June 2009. Two eggs subsequently disappeared. The remaining egg hatched and the chick, blind and covered with down, opened its eyes within hours (left). It remained in the nest and was brooded by an adult. By the next day it became energetic and left the nest to explore the surroundings. This is perceived as a critical trait towards securing its survival in an open area with predators and human activities.

The nest in such an open area is most vulnerable to every conceivable dangers.

The adults were protective of the chicks, dive bombing intruders, including the observer when he walked upright. Not so when he crouched.

Eight days after hatching the chick was found dead, of unknown cause.

If your are interested in the details of the chick’s first two days of life after hatching, check out the paper: Lim, J. C. W., 2009. First two days in the life of a little tern, Sterna albifrons (Aves: Sternidae). Nature in Singapore 2: 307-310. A PDF of the paper can be downloaded HERE

Another account has been earlier posted.

Dr Jeff Lim
August 2009

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

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