Chinese Crested Tern

East Asia


Thalasseus bernsteini


  • Human persecution and exploitation
  • Disturbance and destruction of nesting colonies
  • Hybridization

The Chinese crested tern is a type of seabird from the Laridae family and is considered as Asia’s rarest bird creature. Its nesting colony are scattered throughout the Chinese provinces of Fujian and Shandong while its wintering ground can be found in the south of the Philippines.

Since its first discovery in 1863, scientists have just encountered only five groups of this seabird species for studies and there were only remaining four pairs by the end of the 20th century. Its built, plumage pattern, and body colour are similar with the Sandwich Tern, except for one striking feature – the former has a black-tipped yellow bill while the latter has yellow-tipped black bill.

Its nests are always being ransacked due to its eggs; humans also hunt them for its meat. Due to political tensions as well as occurrence of typhoons in the region, its native habitat is severely affected, preventing the Chinese Crested Tern from breeding as it normally would. And pollution within its surroundings has caused embryos to die before hatching. Remaining adults are forced to mate with another species, the Greater Crested Tern which leads to a more diluted gene pool.