The Fairy Tern is a small, coastal seabird, found between the Dampier and Recherche Archipelagos. They measure about 250 mm from their bill- to tail-tip, and in peak breeding condition, they feature a dark black head cap and bright orange bill and legs.
Fairy Terns can often be seen nesting and raising chicks on sandy beaches of the mainland and nearshore islands or close to river mouths in the spring and summer months. Their nest consists of a shallow scrape in the sand, enhanced with small shells or stones, which helps to camouflage eggs and chicks. Their diet consists, almost exclusively, of small bait fishes such as sprats, anchovies, and garfish, which are captured by plunge diving.
The exposed nesting sites on beaches can make them vulnerable to vehicles, foot traffic, pets, and feral animals. In recent times, a loss of breeding habitat combined with disturbance from intensive human-induced activity has resulted in reduced breeding success. It is estimated that there are fewer than 3,000 pairs of Fairy Terns in WA.