Greater crested terns courtship caught on camera in east China

A male greater crested tern courting a female by offering fish was caught on camera on Tuesday at the Xiangshan Jiushan Islands National Nature Reserve in east China's Zhejiang Province.

The footage shows a male greater crested tern walking towards a female with a newly caught fish and the female bird accepting the gift and dancing with it in a circle and then echoing his bird chirp loudly. The greater crested terns usually breed in May and June.

According to the management staff, the Xiangshan Jiushan Islands National Nature Reserve is home to more than 4,600 crested terns, including the greater crested terns under second-class state protection and the critically endangered Chinese crested terns under the first-class state protection. 

The greater crested terns look very similar to the Chinese crested terns, but there are tricks to tell the difference.

"Greater crested terns have relatively grayer plumage than the Chinese crested terns, while the plumage of Chinese crested terns is relatively whiter. Another main feature is that the top one-third of Chinese crested terns' beak is black," said Ding Peng, a staff member of the management center at the Xiangshan Jiushan Islands National Nature Reserve. 

(Cover image via screenshot.)

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