The whiskered tern is a tern in the family Laridae. The genus name is from Ancient Greek khelidonios, “swallow-like”, from khelidon, “swallow”.
The body length is 23 to 29 cm. Iris dark brown. Breeding plumes dark red, non-breeding plumes black. The breeding legs are red, the non-breeding legs are black.
The male breeding plumage has black above the eyes and white cheeks, forming a clear contrast, and at first glance appears to have fine white whiskers. The back is dark gray, and the wings and tail feathers are gray. Throat, neck side white, chest gray, belly black, white undertail coverts. Non-breeding males have white head, neck, chest and belly, with small black spots on the top of the head and black patches behind the eyes. The back is light grey.
The female is the same color as the male, but slightly smaller than the male.
The sub-adult is similar to the adult non-breeding bird, but with a light flesh color on the face, dark gray tips on the back of the neck, and light brown feather edges on the back and shoulders.
Breeds in southeastern Siberia and northeastern China. In winter, move south to southeastern China, Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, Taiwan and other places to escape the cold.