A member of the Tern family, the River Tern is an aggressive and gregarious bird. With a Black and Grey body, the bird has three distinct features by way of a forked tail, bright orange legs and a brilliant yellow beak.

River Tern at Kabini

River Tern

Unlike most terns however, the River Tern is an exclusive fresh water bird, rarely venturing up the estuaries. Sandbanks are its favourite breeding and nesting places, and for this reason, it has a perennial fight with larger mammals like Elephants, Crocodiles and Otters who swim out to the sandbanks to feed on the lush green grass. In the process, they disturb and pose a threat to the nests and hatchlings of the terns on the sand banks. Colonies of River Terns gang up to drive out these invaders, and this is a common sight in Kabini.

 Terns are also brilliant divers. They plunge headfirst into the water at great speeds, often stunning fish below the water, and emerge with fish in their beaks.

 The Boat Safaris at Kabini, especially during summer when the water levels recede, reveal large sand banks that are a great place to watch these birds nest. And if you are lucky, you can get to see them ganging up to drive away an Otter or a Crocodile or even an Elephant.

elephants in Kabini

Fighting the Mighty Beasts…