M. H. C. Lichtenstein, 1823,
Cape of Good Hope, South Africa.
Has been thought to be closely related to T. maximus and there is recent evidence that it forms part of a genetic cluster with West African Royal Terns Thalasseus maximus albididorsalis and Lesser Crested Terns T. bengalensis (of all subspecies)#R. Possibly hybridizes with T. bernsteini. Subspecific taxonomy unusually confusing; proposed race enigma now synonymized with nominate, and race gwendolenae is perhaps better included within cristatus; many other races proposed, e.g. bakeri (Makran coast, in SE Iran and S Pakistan), edwardsi (Sri Lanka), halodramus (Sulu Is, in SW Philippines), pelecanoides (Torres Strait, NE Australia), poliocerca (Tasmania). In contrast, species sometimes treated as monotypic. Five subspecies currently recognized.
Food and feeding
Status and conservation
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