Terns (Sternidae)

White Tern (Gygis alba) - HBW 3, p. 666

French: Gygis blanche German: Feenseeschwalbe Spanish: Charrán Blanco
Other common names: Fairy Tern(!); Common White Tern (alba); Little White Tern (microrhyncha)

Taxonomy: Sterna alba Sparrman, 1786, Ascension Island.
Placed in a monotypic genus, owing to unique plumage and bill. Race microrhyncha sometimes separated as distinct species, but apparently interbreeds with G. alba in Kiribati. Internal taxonomy extremely confusing, with correct subspecific allocations and limits frequently unclear and disputed; some authors have preferred to recognize several additional races, including royana of Norfolk I and Kermadec Is, pacifica of Caroline Is, Melanesia and other islands of S Pacific, and rothschildi of Hawaii, all of which herein included in nominate race, but all are so.. View all taxonomy...

Taxonomy: Sterna alba Sparrman, 1786, Ascension Island.
Placed in a monotypic genus, owing to unique plumage and bill. Race microrhyncha sometimes separated as distinct species, but apparently interbreeds with G. alba in Kiribati. Internal taxonomy extremely confusing, with correct subspecific allocations and limits frequently unclear and disputed; some authors have preferred to recognize several additional races, including royana of Norfolk I and Kermadec Is, pacifica of Caroline Is, Melanesia and other islands of S Pacific, and rothschildi of Hawaii, all of which herein included in nominate race, but all are sometimes referred instead to race candida. Birds of Seychelles and Mascarenes described as monte, but not separable from candida. Four subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution:

  • alba (Sparrman, 1786) - Caroline Is through Melanesia to Norfolk I and Kermadec Is; Hawaii; W Mexico (Clipperton), Costa Rica (Cocos I) and probably Colombia (Malpelo); S Atlantic islands (Fernando de Noronha, Trinidade, Ascension, St Helena).
  • candida (Gmelin, 1789) - Seychelles and Mascarenes through Indian Ocean to SC Pacific, including Marquesas Is (Hatutu).
  • microrhyncha Saunders, 1876 - Marquesas Is (Eiao to Fatu Hiva) and apparently also Phoenix and Line Is.
  • leucopes Holyoak & Thibault, 1976 - Henderson I and Pitcairn I (SE Pacific).