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39â€“42 cm. (15⅓"-16½")
 Similar species
The whole group of "comic terns" can cause problems for identifying this species. In Australian waters, that group consists of Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Antarctic Tern, White-fronted Tern, Roseate Tern and Kerguelen Tern. At least for the birds occurring in that area, Common Tern can be identified by having a "hook" pattern on its primaries.
The White-fronted Tern is the most common tern in New Zealand. It breeds along the coast of the New Zealand mainland, also Auckland and Chatham Islands. Visits other subantarctic islands. Many birds, including most juveniles, will winter in Australian waters.
Three recognized subspecies:
Coastal waters and harbours. Roosts on sandspits and shellbanks and is rarely seen inland. Large flocks will form over shoaling fish, mainly in the summer and autumn.
Breeding is between October and January in large colonies on rocky cliffs and offshore islands
White-fronted Terns feed in large flocks by plunge diving on shoals of smelt and pilchards which have been driven to the surface by larger fish and are easily caught. Like all terns they fly with their heads and bills pointing down to see their prey.
Common call is a high pitched siet.
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