Chinese Crested Tern

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Chinese Crested Tern
Conservation status: Critical
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Charadriiformes
Family:Sternidae
Genus:Sterna
Species:S. bernsteini
Binomial name
Sterna bernsteini
Schlegel,, 1863

The Chinese Crested Tern (Sterna bernsteini) is a seabird of the tern family Sternidae, closely related to Sandwich Tern S. sandvicensis and Lesser Crested Tern S. bengalensis. It is most similar to the former, differing only in the bill pattern, which is the reverse of the Sandwich Tern's, being yellow with a black tip. From Lesser Crested Tern, which it overlaps in wintering distribution, it can be told by the white rump and paler grey mantle, as well as the black tip to the bill. The larger Greater Crested Tern is also similar, differing in the stouter, all-yellow bill and darker grey mantle and rump, as well as in size.

It is a critically endangered species, previously thought extinct, with a known population of only four pairs rediscovered in 2000, nesting in a Greater Crested Tern colony on an islet in the Matsu Islands, just off the coast of Fujian Province, China, and wintering south to the Philippines. In the past, it had a wider distribution off the Chinese east coast north to Shandong Province. The decline is thought to be due to past hunting and egg collection for food. Past protection of this colony may be because of the islands' disputed status, administered by Taiwan but claimed by Mainland China, the military sensitivity of the area restricting access. The islet has now been declared a wildlife sanctuary. It is possible that other small colonies may yet be found off the Chinese and Taiwanese coasts, with a speculated world population in the region of 100 birds.

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