Welcome to Lincoln Park Zoo’s new web app! Share your feedback

Inca Tern

McCormick Bird House

Did You Know?

  • Inca terns are native to the same region of South America as the ancient Inca Empire—hence their name.
  • The length of their moustache can signal information about reproduction and performance.
  • Inca terns hunt by plunging and diving beneath the water for fish. They can even hover over the ocean while locating prey.

Don’t See the Animals?

Why aren’t animals visible at all times? To promote positive animal welfare, we provide animals with choices. They can choose to spend time in areas that are out of public view.


Take an Animal Home with You

Visit Gift ShopShop Online


Scientific Name: Larosterna inca

Class: Birds

Diet: Fish

Range: Northern Peru through southern Chile

Endangered Status: Near Threatened

More Information

Inca terns have a dark gray body and a red beak and legs. They are distinguished by a yellow waddle and white feather tufts on each side of their face, which look like a moustache. Males and females look similar, but young Inca terns have a gray beak, legs, and moustache feathers. These birds form large flocks of up to 5,000 individuals when feeding. They seek out islands and rocky coastal cliffs.

These birds perform courtship displays such as feeding and head-bobbing. They build nests in different locations, including burrows and caves or even old Humboldt penguin nests. Females lay up to two eggs per clutch, which are incubated by both parents. Chicks fledge in 40 days and reach maturity around age 2. Populations are threatened by overfishing, predation, and guano harvesting.

Hold Camera Steady with QR in focus.

We need permission to use your camera for QR codes.

Having Trouble?

Find code numbers below QR codes at exhibits and animals.