Sandwich Tern

Thalasseus sandvicensis

Order

CHARADRIIFORMES

Family

Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Code 4

SATE

Code 6

THASAN

ITIS

  • wgba_banner
  • ibird_banner
  • journal_banner
1 2 3

ILLUSTRATION

ask community
Copyright © 2004 - 2014 Mitch Waite Group

PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The Sandwich Tern has a large range, estimated globally at 100,000 to 1,000,000 square kilometers. Native to Europe, Africa, and the Americas, this bird prefers neritic, oceanic, intertidal, and coastal marine ecosystems. The global population of this bird is estimated at 460,000 to 500,000 individuals and does not show signs of decline that would necessitate inclusion on the IUCN Red List. For this reason, the current evaluation status of the Sandwich Tern is Least Concern.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

Sandwich Tern: This is the only medium-sized tern with a long slender black bill tipped with yellow. The upperparts are very pale gray, nearly white, and the underparts are white. The black crown has a short black crest, the white tail is deeply forked, and the legs and feet are black. It has a direct flight and hovers before diving for fish. Sexes are similar.


Range and Habitat

Sandwich Tern: Found in many parts of the world, breeding in select locations in Europe, southwestern Asia, Africa, South America, and the Caribbean. In North America, they are only found along the Gulf Coast of Mexico and the United States and along the Atlantic coast of the United States during the summer months. Found in areas of sandy islands or beaches.

whatbird search for your browser

SONGS AND CALLS

Voice Text

"gwit-gwit", "skir-rick", "kehk", "ki-i wii wii"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • The Sandwich Tern was originally described by ornithologist John Latham in 1787 as Sterna sandvicensis, but was recently moved to its current genus Thalasseus following mitochondrial DNA studies.
  • It is not very aggressive toward potential predators, relying on the sheer density of the nests—often only 8–12 in apart— and nesting close to more aggressive species such as Arctic Terns and Black-headed Gulls to avoid predation.
  • The current genus name is derived from the Greek Thalassa, "sea", and sandvicensis refers to Sandwich, Kent, Latham's type locality.
  • A group of sandwich terns are collectively known as a "hogey" of terns.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP

CERange Map for Sandwich Tern

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

David Lukas

Artist

David Wenzel

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

BACKYARD BIRDING

BIRDS AND BIRDING

.
UnderpartsX

Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

UpperpartsX
Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
CrestX
Tufts of feathers on the head of the bird.
CrownX
The crown is the top part of the birds head.
Lower mandibleX
The lower part of the bill.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X