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Common Tern

(Sterna hirundo)
Size: 31-35 cm; wing span 77-98 cm
Weight: 110-140 g


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

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Common Tern at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat

Click here for information on habitat and range


Click here for sighting information


Race "hirundo"


Sex unknown


Near-dorsal view of a Common Tern in breeding plumage (left), together with several Lesser Crested Terns
[Quriyyat, May 2010]

Dorsal view of a Common Tern in breeding plumage, partly obscured by a Lesser Crested Tern
[Quriyyat, May 2010]

Race "longipennis"

Common Terns, race "longipennis", were photographed by us in Australia.

Food, Diet

Like all terns, Common 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.


For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

comtern_jp_20190717.m4a hirundo
? © JP
comtern_jp_20190717_2.m4a hirundo
? © JP

More Common Tern sound recordings are available at .

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.

Would you like to contribute photos or sound recordings to this site?
If interested, please CLICK HERE. Credits to contributors are given HERE.