Onychoprion lunatus | gray-backed tern | pākalakala


Other Names: pakalakala, spectacled tern, grey backed tern

The pākalakala, also known as the gray-backed tern or spectacled tern, is endemic to the central Pacific and breeds on small and remote islands and atolls. Adults are mostly slate gray above and white below with a black crown and nape. The forehead has a narrow white patch that is continuous along a white eye-brow that extends above and past the eye and is completely bordered with black. The pākalakala often forages with ‘ewa‘ewa (sooty tern) and ‘ua‘u kani (wedge-tailed shearwater) and feed mainly by plunge diving or by dipping the surface while hovering.

The map below shows birding trails where you might see this bird. Learn more by visiting our species profile page for pākalakala.

Native Birds of Hawaiʻi

Hotspots for gray-backed tern

Makapuʻu Point Lighthouse Trail


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