Lovely mustached bird Inca Tern who looks like Salvador Dali


If you have ever happened to watch wonderful Inca Tern bird which is an endemic species in Peru and Chile, probably it’d have reminded of Salvador Dali to your mind. This is because of the beautiful mustache of this bird which is very similar to the well-known artist Salvador Dali`s mustache. A white colour mustache spreads over the sides of its head while a colourful beak of red and orange and the feet of same colours add more beauty to this bird. This amazing creature is gifted with a unique identity mainly by grooming it with the hard, white facial hair which is exactly like a handlebar mustache.   Another Commonly remarked feature of these birds is their call. The cry or the call of the Inca Tern is  similar to the sound of a kitten`s, “mew” but in a louder manner.

Image credits: Truus & Zoo

The colour contrast of its black body, red and orange beak and feet along with the yellow designs in the face have brough a wonderful colour contrast to this lovely Inca Tern. The snaps of this bird have been perfectly captured by the photographer, Kathryn Lisko at Milwaukee Country Zoo located in her home city, Wisconsin, United States.

As a wildlife ecology graduate, being a regular visitor to the zoo for almost two decades, she mentioned “I have visited the aviary many times but never encountered these little terns before. I saw three Inca Terns relaxing on the path and their mustache feathers fascinated me as they posed for photos.”

As she stated, one of the Terns was so docile so that she could stay closer to the bird even when the rest of the flock had flown off. “After I had taken a series of photos of the tern, a small dabbling duck waddled up the path. He scared the tern off so that he could get to a piece of fish nearby on the stones. I have never seen a bird with mustache feathers before.”, The photographer further expressed her amazement.

Both male birds and female birds look almost similar. It is assumed that the length of the mustache being the sign for helping them pick a healthier mate. They breed on the coasts of Peru and Chile and are only restricted to Humboldt current. Inca Tern normally grows to a length about 41 cm. While growing up the birds, both the sexes look similar and eventually they start turning purple- brown and getting the facial plumes. Then this bird lover whispered, “I got several fantastic photos that day and I am still thrilled about them.”

As she mentioned with her previous experiences, and her background in ecology, she had never seen birds with a mustache and she stated that most features of the birds have some hidden purpose or if not as an adornment to attract mates.

Image credits:
 Image credits: Vemsteroo
Instagram | @ccandmycameraeye

When talking about the habitat of this species, it is only found near the cold waters of the Humboldt Current, where they depend on anchovies and other kind of small fish. Most commonly this species can be found at the Pacific coast from Peru to Chile while on inshore islands and on coastal cliffs are the breed called Least Terns. Plunge diving and surface dipping are the methods used to feed themselves. The bird also forages leftovers from sea lions, dolphins and fishing boats.

Some animals have developed many weird and wonderful mating rituals. One of these extravagant mating patterns can be found in Inca Tern with a “high flight” ritual. A sudden movement to higher skies for hundred feet by the male bird followed by the female bird is the sign of mating in these birds. Couple choose to build their nest in cliff hollows or clefts or sometimes a nest of Humboldt Penguin. During the time of courtship, at the stage of child rearing, the couples return to the same nest sites for several years continuously where both the parents taking care of the chicks.

Usually, couples stay together until the breeding season is over even though they do not go for the same mate every in the next mating year after year.

Lookalike: The Inca Tern bears a striking resemblance to famous people with handlebar mustaches as artist Salvador Dali.

Unfortunately, Inca Terns Are Listed as a Near-Threatened Species.

According to ABC Vice President, Mike Parr, a remarkable place to see a large number of Inca Terns and other kinds of seabirds such as Peruvian Boobies and Guanay Cormorants is Coastal Peru.

Furthermore, he explained, “It’s hard to imagine that there were once even more seabirds using these waters. The double-whammy of over-fishing and excessive guano harvest—which eliminates nest sites—has been compounded by the effects of the El Niño cycle, which affects fish stocks.” The bad news for the nature lovers and a sign of destructive occurrences in the world nature. 

One of the main reasons for the decrease in population of this species is falling population of fish.

The birds have to compete with human fisheries for food. Their island nesting sites are often destroyed by the guano trading.

Another reason affecting the number of Inca Terns is the El Nino and storms where during the strong storms the population decreases due to the destruction of nests in huge amounts. Even though the storms disappear quickly, the effect of them on these kinds of creatures is higher.  

Most creatures are being extinctic due to various reasons and rats, cats and other predators on some islands interrupt the growth of nesting and breeding process as well.  Islands are mostly vulnerable to invasive animals; for an instant, cats have made their contribution on the extinction of 33 species on islands.

According to International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, the total Inca Tern population is more than 150,000 individuals which is not a huge amount. Unfortunately, this species has been classified under “Near Threatened” and their numbers are being decreased.

In 2009 with the influence of in-country NGOs, the Peruvian government formed the Guano Islands and Capes National Reserve in order to protect Inca Tern and Sea Lion breeding colonies live in twenty-eight Guano islands and cliffs spreading along the coastline.

Expectantly, the regulations and conservative measures would cease these lovely creatures from being endangered in the future and wish to see them around.

Instagram | @bird.nerd._

Distinguished: This Inca Tern was snapped at Milwaukee County Zoo. Its tousled white feathers contrast with its black body, red beak and yellow facial markings

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