Caspian Terns are the largest of all terns.
they have a black cap, white front (throat,
neck, chest, belly and vent) and grey wings. The black eyes are
surrounded by the black cap, while the frons (base of the bill)
is white. The pointy, long bill is red with a black tip, the
short legs and feet are black.
the cap becomes mottled black-and-white and only a stripe
behind the eyes remains solid dark-grey to black.
Caspian Terns have mottled grey upperparts, with a mottled cap.
The overall distribution of this species can be assessed, and
specific locations where birds have been spotted can be found,
based on individual sighting reports submitted by birdwatchers to
The global distribution of the Caspian Tern is available
Caspian Terns are a partly migratory species with a wide-ranging
Populations breeding around large inland lakes and the coastlines
of northern-hemisphere continents (North America, Europe, Asia)
are migratory. The northern American birds migrate southwards in
winter, to the southern coasts of North America, the West Indies
and northern South American coastlines.
The European and Asian populations spend the winter along the
tropical and subtropical coastlines of Africa, southern Asia
The populations breeding in Africa and Australasia are resident
or locally dispersive, but do not migrate.
In Europe Caspian Terns are found as summer breeding migrants
from the South to their breeding grounds along the northern
coastal fringes of the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and along
the coastline of the northern Baltic Sea, from southern Sweden
via Finland to the Baltic states. En route they can be found
in various parts, in particular the Mediterranean, but also
along the Atlantic coastline and along their migration routes
across the continent from the Mediterranean and the Black Sea
to the Baltic Sea.
Caspian Terns can be found above coastal waters, but also
in tidal flats and inland, in the shallows of freshwater lakes,
including ephemeral lakes and ephemeral wetlands.
Click here for sighting information
J. Pires reports finding Caspian
Terns occasionally in estuaries and other coastal habitats
during the non-breeding season and while on migration
(typically from October to April) in southern/central Portugal, e.g.
in the Tejo estuary, Portugal, in January 2018, and in the Sado
estuary, Setubal, Portugal, in April 2019. Another was found at
Castro Marim, Algarve, Portugal, in October 2019.
All sighting and photographic information presented on this
page has kindly been contributed by J. Pires.
These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our
contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species
please refer to a field guide.
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Wed, 27 December 2023, 22:22 +00:00