(Gygis alba rothschildi) Native
This tern, also known as the Fairy Tern, is native to the island. While
uncommon, it's not too difficult to find nesting terns around Honolulu.
Some birds remain year-round fledging young, but most birds arrive in
February and leave in September.
An interesting note about their nest building is that they don't build
one. These birds actually lay their eggs right on the tree branch. or
ledge. For 45 days after hatching the young remain close to home. Since
these birds fish in the ocean, the adults bring back food to the young
mostly in the form of small fish.
The Honolulu population of White Terns has the highest fledgling success
rate of any White Tern population. This is especially interesting because
the tern’s natural breeding areas do not have any natural predators,
but Honolulu has plenty. It is thought that the abundance of nesting sites
(read: anything a couple feet off the ground) has facilitated this. These
birds have no natural fear of humans and may land on your shoulder if
you are lucky.
Where to find on campus: There are two “nests”
that I have found- one on the Maile Way Median b/w Saunders and Hamilton
area, and one on University Avenue on the Diamond Head side just before
Dole. If you go to a high story in many of the buildings you can see them
flying around the back of Manoa. They are distinguishable from doves in
the air by their tail shape, and agility.