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UK Nature  > Birds  > Sternula albifrons

Scientific Name:   Sternula albifrons
Common Name:   Little Tern

Sternula albifrons, more commonly known as the Little Tern, is a migratory coastal seabird which usually fishes in shallow water only a few centimetres deep, often over the advancing tideline or in brackish lagoons and saltmarsh creeks. It has the most inshore distribution of all terns.

It is the UK's smallest Tern and can be readily identified by its orange-yellow, black-tipped bill and white forehead. Its diet consists of small fish and crustaceans as well as insects, annelid worms and molluscs. In Scotland, Little Terns feed mainly on small fish and invertebrates, including herring, sandeel, and shrimps.

The nest is a bare scrape positioned on the ground in sparse vegetation on beaches of sand, pebbles, shingle, shell fragments, or rock above the high tide line and often only a few metres away from shallow clear water. Alternatively in more marshy habitats (e.g. coastal saltmarshes) the species may build a nest of shells or vegetation. The species nests in small loose colonies, with neighbouring nests usually placed more than 2m apart.
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