The upper body and wings are pale grey while the neck and underparts are white. The top of the head is mottled black and white. There is a wide black patch on the back of the neck, extending to the sides of the face. When breeding the top of the head is black with a crest. Young birds upperparts are mottled brown with a green-yellow bill. Similar to a Silver Gull at first glance, however, the dark cap, grey back and long, pointed wings help to distinguish it.
The Crested Tern is the most numerous of the local species of tern. These birds often roost opposite the jetty or on boats moored in the estuary. They are excellent fliers and are able to dive into the water, from a height, to catch fish they spy swimming below the surface. Generally worms, molluscs, crustaceans and insects are eaten.