110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Lynn Bowen
posted Dec 23, 2013 - 9:23:38am
“Inca” is a Quechua word from the Peruvians meaning “ruler” or “lord.” Since Inca terns live only in Peru and Chile, where the Inca Indians lived long ago, they have this majestic name.
Inca terns look like they are waiting for an artist to paint their portrait, with their charcoal-colored plumage, black eyes, red bill, and red legs, all of which are very pretty. But, in my opinion, their white mustache is their most interesting feature. Both male and female have these white distinguished-looking feathers signaling maturity.
Inca terns are only 16 inches tall, and weigh 6 to 8 ounces.
These seabirds eat small fish. They spot prey from the air, and then snatch the fish from the top few inches of the water. Other birds like Humboldt penguins in the area dive deeper for their food, so they are not in competition.
Due to loss of suitable habitat, Inca terns are in the “near threatened” category. They nest mainly on rocky cliffs along the coast, in natural holes and burrows. Sometimes they nest inside abandoned buildings.
After the female and male terns incubate their one or two eggs for four weeks, the chicks hatch. They fledge at only 7 weeks.
Perhaps an aspiring artist will wish to paint the beautiful Inca tern. Only four colors are needed: charcoal, white, black and red!
— Bowen lives in DeLand. Send email to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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