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UK Nature > Birds > Sterna sandvicensis




Scientific Name: Sterna sandvicensis
Common Name: Sandwich Tern

Sterna sandvicensis, more commonly known as the Sandwich Tern, is a very white tern, with a black cap on its head, a long black bill with a yellow tip and short black legs. In flight it shows grey wedges on its wings tips and it has a short forked tail.

The individual in the above photograph is in transition between breeding and non-breeding plumage; the black cap is turning gradually to white at the front, by the bill.

In the UK, many of the important colonies survive because they are on nature reserves. There are colonies of Sandwich terns scattered around the UK coasts including the North Norfolk coast; Minsmere, Suffolk; and Dungeness, Kent. They can be seen from late March to September, usually feeding on fish such as sand eels, sprats and whiting. There are about 12000 breeding pairs in the UK.











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