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UK Nature > Birds > Sterna hirundo




Scientific Name: Sterna hirundo
Common Name: Common Tern

Sterna hirundo, more commonly known as the Common Tern, is slightly larger and longer-legged than the similar Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea), with shorter wings and a black-tipped red beak. Most terns seen on inland waters will be this species.

These delightful silvery-grey and white birds have long tails which have earned them the nickname 'sea-swallow'. They have a buoyant, graceful flight and frequently hover over water before plunging down for a fish. They are often noisy in company and breed in colonies along coasts with shingle beaches and rocky islands, on rivers with shingle bars, and at inland gravel pits and reservoirs, feeding along rivers and over freshwater.

Migrating birds can be seen offshore in autumn. They are in residence in the UK throughout the summer, arriving in April and leaving in August and September. They are most obvious when feeding their young as they will fly some distance for food, returning to the nest site with a fish.











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