Black-naped Tern

Sterna sumatrana sumatrana




Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Buff or pale green.

Number of Eggs:

1 - 2

Incubation Days:


Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

Nests are built in a slight depression on rocky ground or a sea cliff.

Nest Material:

No nesting materials are used.





Black-naped Tern: Small, white tern with pale gray back and wings, and black line that extends from the eye back to a black patch on the nape. Black line on outermost primary. Black bill is long, sharp, and nearly straight. Fairly long, forked tail. Legs and feet are black. Forages for small fish by diving into shallow water near beaches and atoll lagoons.

Breeding and Nesting

Black-naped Tern: One or two buff or pale green eggs with brown blotches are laid in a slight depression on rocky ground or on a sea cliff. No nesting material is used. Both sexes incubate eggs for 24 days. This species nests in colonies that range from 5 to 200 pairs.

Foraging and Feeding

Black-naped Tern: Feeds almost entirely on small fish. It forages for fish in shallow inshore waters of atoll lagoons, near beaches, or above coral reefs. It rarely forages in waters of the open ocean. It catches fish by plunge diving and submerging its body a few feet into the water, or by making shallow dives just below the surface.


Black-naped Tern: Call is a high-pitched "kee-kee."

Similar Species

Black-naped Tern: Common Tern has a black crown and nape. Little Tern is smaller, and has a yellow bill, feet and legs.

Also called the hindneck or collar, it is the back of the neck where the head joins the body.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X