Common Tern (Palau)

Sterna hirundo longipennis

Order

CHARADRIIFORMES

Family

Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Code 4

COTE

Code 6

STEHIR

ITIS

ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The Common Tern is a medium-sized seabird that is sometimes also called a sea swallow due to its diving abilities and affinity for water habitats. This species forms large colonies for breeding, and does so in temperate and sub-Arctic climates throughout Europe, Asia and eastern and central North America. In winter months, the Common Tern will migrate to subtropical and tropical ocean coastlines. Breeding takes place along the coasts and on islands of inland lakes. This species dives for fish in both salt and fresh water. The current conservation rating for the Common Tern is Least Concern.

SUMMARY

Overview

Common Tern (Palau): Medium-sized tern with medium gray upperparts, pale gray underparts sometimes with some pink early in breeding season; glossy black cap and nape. Wings are dark-tipped and have dark leading edge on fore wing. Red bill is black-tipped. Legs are red and tail is deeply forked and elongated, tail reaches wingtips at rest. Sexes are similar. Winter adult and juveniles have white forehead, black crown with white streaks; prominent dark bar on lesser coverts; underparts gray; black bill with red base; legs duller red to black-red.

 

Range and Habitat

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Common Tern (Palau) SONGS AND CALLS

Common Tern L1

"Kee-aarr" alarm calls and repeated "kip" calls.

Common Tern H2

Calls from a breeding colony.

Similar Sounding

Black-headed Gull J1

Harsh "karr" calls from a colony.

Little Tern P1

Squeaky calls from pair at nest.


Voice Text

"kee-aarr", "kip", "keeerr"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • A group of terns is collectively known as a "U" or a "committee" of terns.
  • Common Terns display odd behaviors early in their breeding season: for no known reason, most terns will fly, fast and silent, out to sea. This is called a "dread."
  • During the 19th century millinery trends caused a large reduction in the population of Common Tern in Europe and North America; the use of feathers and wings (or entire birds) became a popular fashion statement.
  • The subspecies found on Palau was first described by Finnish naturalist Alexander von Nordmann in 1835.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP PALAU

About this Palau Map

This map shows how this species is distributed across the Palau islands.

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Artist

Chris Vest

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

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UnderpartsX

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

UpperpartsX
Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
CapX
The area on top of the head of the bird.
CrownX
The crown is the top part of the birds head.
NapeX
Also called the hindneck or collar, it is the back of the neck where the head joins the body.
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