White Tern Courtship

Category: Nature


Photo and caption by Melissa Thompson

Every year white terns (Norfolk tern) return to Lord Howe Island after winter holidays away. They return to the same tree branch and upon arrival of their life long mate, begin a courtship of preening and smooching before mating to lay a single egg which is held down with saliva onto a lone branch. They will have three attempts per season should the first two eggs fail by way of wind, owls, currawongs or even rats. Gestation usually lasts approximately 4-5 weeks. Wether they travel together to the same place when they leave each May is unclear but partners seem to arrive home separately.

Location: Lord Howe Island


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