Lesser Crested Tern

Scientific Name: Thalasseus bengalensis

Malay Name: Camar Berjambul Kecil

Chinese Name: 小凤头燕鸥

Range: Found along the coasts of Africa to Arabian Peninsula, southern Pakistan to northern Australia. Non-breeding coastal visitor (mostly winter) to Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.

Taxonomy: Polytypic. Subspecies are: emigratus, bengalensis, torresii.

Size: 35-40 cm

Identification: Non-breeding adult resembles Greater Crested Tern but is smaller and has orange bill. Breeding adult has black crown and nape (including extreme forehead) and brighter orange bill. Juvenile distinguished from juvenile Greater Crested Tern by orange bill.

Similar looking species: Greater Crested Tern

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

Behaviour/Ecology: Feeds by plunge-diving for fish.

Local Status: Uncommon 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):

Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis
Estimated average number of individuals by week based on eBird data, Jul 2013 to Jun 2023
Peak week Apr 23-Apr 29
Early date 04 Aug 2018
Late date 28 Jun 2014
Sightings in recent years appear to be declining, and it seems this species is a bit harder to find than Great Crested Terns.


BirdLife International. (2018). Thalasseus bengalensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-2.RLTS.T22694561A132560333.en. 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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