Inca terns are a unique coastal sea bird. They are set apart from other seabirds because they are the only member of the genus Larosterna. The Inca tern has colorful plumage. An interesting fact about the bird is that it is not only the male that has colorful feathers, but also the female. The most prominent feature that the Inca tern possesses is the white feathers that fall around its face, making the appearance of a white handlebar mustache.
The Inca tern was named for the range which they are found-the ancient Inca Empire. They are found along coastal islands off of Peru and Chile. There they make nests on cliffs or sometimes use a Humboldt penguin nest that is no longer being occupied. The Inca tern is a piscivore and eats small fish such as anchovies.
At the Oregon Zoo in Portland, Oregon the Inca terns live in the Penguinarium Exhibit with their pals the Humboldt penguins. This makes perfect sense since Inca terns and Humboldt penguins get a long quite well and are used to living in the same region. Grey gulls also live in the exhibit as well.
When keepers noticed an Inca tern chick was not being cared for by its mom in the exhibit, they stepped in. They could not leave the poor helpless bird in the Penguinarium without a mother to provide him with food. Not only to provide food, but the mother would also naturally protect the young chick from the gulls and keep him warm too. He would not have made it without intervention.
The baby was taken out of the exhibit and is being raised by the keepers for now. In order to provide the baby bird with a mother like presence, the keepers had to get a little creative. They ingeniously brought in a feather duster! The feather duster will be the baby's cozy surrogate mama until he can fly and fend off the gulls, who enjoy picking on baby terns.
The keepers have done all they can do to ensure this little one will be able to thrive in the Penguinarium when the time is right. He was fed wetted fish with tweezers and kept under a heat lamp to stay warm. Don't forget their creative fix for a surrogate mom! Not every baby bird can say that their mom was a feather duster!
The Inca terns population is decreasing and the Oregon Zoo is doing what they can to help them continue to survive. This little guy has a fresh start and is such a cutie! I love listening to the sounds baby birds make. Watch this absolutely adorable little fuzzball in the video below!
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