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Chinese Crested Tern, One of the World’s Rarest Bird Species

Its population in nature is at the brink of extinction. It is estimated only 100 adults remain. The eggs are being hunted while coastal wetlands are being reduced. The comfortable and safe home is now a threat.

Populasinya di alam mendekati kepunahan. Diperkirakan hanya ada 100 individu dewasa yang tersisa. Telurnya diburu, sedangkan lahan basah di pesisir semakin berkurang. Rumahnya yang dulu nyaman dan aman kini berbuah ancaman.

The Chinese Crested Terns (Thalasseus bernsteini) are wanderers. They often discovered breeding on small islands and mudflats on eastern coast of China. When the breeding season is off, this species wanders all the way to Indonesia.

Beaches are frequently visited by the Chinese Crested Terns to rest or hunt. In Indonesia, this bird is observed to mingle with the Greater Crested Tern (Thalasseus bergii) colony, foraging in beach rocks.

The presence of the species was first discovered when a single specimen was found on 22 November 1861 in Kao, Halmahera. However, no reports of sightings in Indonesian waters since. In the east coast of China, the encounters only occur at two locations: Zhejiang and the Province of Fujian.

Noted as one of the world’s rarest birds, the Chinese Crested Terns are also seen in Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines. It reappeared in Indonesia on 4 December 2010, visiting the northern waters of Seram Island with the colony of Greater Crested Tern.

Dara-laut cina_Burung Indonesia_Simba Chan IChinese Crested Tern is often found mingling with its cousin, the Greater Crested Tern.

In November 2014, this species was again seen in the same location. A similar record was reported in 2015. In mid-January 2016, an adult Chinese Crested Tern—possibly with a juvenile—was observed among about 250 individuals of Greater Crested Terns. Therefore, the location is believed to be the residence of the Chinese Crested Tern during winter in China.

The main threat for this species is conversion of coast wetlands through large-scale development, followed by egg collection by locals for food. In addition, oil spills in the sea, overfishing and tourism threaten the survival of the population.

Physical Differences of the Chinese Crested Tern and the Greater Crested Tern
Being cousins, both birds are hard to tell by a glance. The two are seabirds that wander from the same area: China. They also look similar in size and their black-colored crests are resemblant to each other. The Chinese Crested Tern may have been missed during observation.

However, there are striking differences between the two and may be used as the key of identification. The Chinese Crested Tern is 40-30 centimeters in size, white slender body, pale grey primaries, and black crest. It has long and pointed wings, black-tipped orange beak, and long-forked tail.