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Gull-billed Tern

(Gelochelidon nilotica)
Alternate name(s): "Long-legged Tern"
German name(s): "Lachseeschwalbe"

Size: 33-42 cm; wing span 75-90 cm
Weight: 150-290 g

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Gull-billed Tern at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range


Click here for sighting information


Race "nilotica"


Sex unknown


Gull-billed Terns in both breeding plumage (black caps) and non-breeding plumage (strong black bills, but white cap), on a roost together with other seabirds, primarily a flock of Black-headed Gulls (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[November 2017]


Lateral view of a Gull-billed Tern in non-breeding plumage (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[November 2017]

Race "affinis"

Gull-billed Terns, race "affinis", were photographed by us in Australia.

Race "macrotarsa"

Gull-billed Terns, race "macrotarsa", were photographed by us in Australia.

Food, Diet

Like all terns, Gull-billed Terns feed on fish, which they catch with their bills just under the surface of water in a steep high-speed dive from considerable height.

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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