Tiny and rather local tern of the Humboldt Current. Nests in small colonies amid bleak deserts near coast. Feeds mainly over inshore waters rather than along immediate coast, and thus not seen very frequently, but can be found on sandy beaches and at river mouths, sometimes with other terns. Identified readily by very small size and rapid deep wingbeats. Breeding adult smoky gray overall with white forehead and yellow bill. Immature and nonbreeding birds have a whiter body and reduced black on the head.