Family Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)


Black-fronted Tern (Chlidonias albostriatus)


French: Guifette des galets German: Graubauch-Seeschwalbe Spanish: Fumarel maorí

Hydrochelidon albostriata

G. R. Gray

, 1845,

New Zealand


Has been considered a race of C. hybrida, despite somewhat different morphology and ecology. Monotypic.


New Zealand, breeding in riverbeds of E South I from Marlborough to Southland, rarely in Westland. Post-breeding visitor to North I, where formerly bred.

Descriptive notes

30 cm; 88–96 g. Forehead to nape black, back and wings grey, with darker grey primaries, and underparts pale grey; uppertail- and undertail-coverts and rump white; tail... read more


Usually only vocal when nesting. At colonies they are especially noisy when attacking... read more


Breeds mainly on gravel and sandy bars in fast-flowing braided rivers; also on lake beaches.... read more

Food and feeding

When nesting feed along rivers on small fish (up to 10 cm long) and on emerging nymph and subimago mayflies and stoneflies' they also... read more


Laying occurs from October to December, occasionally to January, late eggs probably being replacement clutches. Nests in loose, usually... read more


After breeding, birds move to the coast of South Island and to southern North Island and Stewart... read more

Status and conservation

ENDANGERED. Previously listed as Vulnerable but now considered Endangered following very rapid population reductions at some wintering and breeding sites that are predicted... read more

Recommended citation

Gochfeld, M., Burger, J. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2019). Black-fronted Tern (Chlidonias albostriatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 7 December 2019).