Greater Crested Tern

Scientific Name: Thalasseus bergii

Malay Name: Camar Berjambul Besar

Chinese Name: 大凤头燕鸥

Alternative Name(s): Swift Tern, Great Crested Tern, Yellow-billed Tern

Range: Found along the coasts of Africa to Arabian Peninsula, Indian Ocean, southern China, southern Japan, Southeast Asia and Australasia.

Taxonomy: Polytypic. Subspecies are: bergii, thalassinus, velox, cristatus.

Size: 45-49 cm

Identification: Non-breeding adult has distinctive long, thick cold yellow bill, darkish grey upperparts, white face and forecrown, blackish hindcrown with whitish streaks and blackish nape. Breeding adult has bright yellow bill, black crown to nape with shaggy crest and white extreme forehead. Juvenile resembles non-breeding adult but has duller bill and brownish feathers with whitish fringes on mantle and back.

Similar looking species: Lesser Crested Tern

Habitat: Open seas, sea-coasts, mudflats and sandflats.

Behaviour/Ecology: Feeds mostly at sea by plunge diving or by dipping from the surface. Food is usually swallowed in mid-air.

Local Status: Common migrant

Conservation Status: Least Concern (BirdLife International 2018)

Location: Straits of Johor, Straits of Singapore, Changi and Pulau Ubin.

Migrant bar chart (see more bar charts):

Greater Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii
Estimated average number of individuals by week based on eBird data, Jul 2013 to Jun 2023
Peak week Dec 24-Dec 30
Early date 02 Jul 2023
Late date 28 Jun 2017
Quite numerous in winter, and large flocks can be observed at Chek Jawa during low tide.


BirdLife International. (2018). Thalasseus bergii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018. Accessed on 1 January 2023

Robson, C. (2014). Field guide to the birds of South-East Asia (Second Edition). Bloomsbury Publishing, London.

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