img
Birds

Forster's
Tern

Least Concern

Increasing

Forster's Tern

Sterna forsteri

The Forster's Tern breeds inland in North America and winters south to the Caribbean and northern South America. This species is rare in western Europe, and has wintered in Ireland and Great Britain on a number of occasions. No European tern winters so far north.

This species breeds in colonies in marshes. It nests in a ground scrape and lays three or more eggs. Like all white terns, it is fiercely defensive of its nest and young.

The Forster's Tern feeds by plunge-diving for fish, but will also hawk for insects in its breeding marshes. It usually feeds from saline environments in winter. It usually dives directly. The offering of fish by the male to the female is part of the courtship display.

This is a small tern around 40 cm long with a70 cm wingspan. It is most similar to the Common Tern. It has pale grey upperparts and white underparts. Its legs are red and its bill is red, tipped with black. In winter, the forehead becomes white and a characteristic black eye-mask remains.

This species is unlikely to be confused with the Common Tern in winter because of the black eye-mask, but is much more similar in breeding plumage. Forster's has a grey centre to its white tail, and the upperwings are pure white, without the darker primary wedge of Common.

The Forster's Tern feeds by plunge-diving for fish, but will also hawk for insects in its breeding marshes. It usually feeds from saline environments in winter. It usually dives directly. The offering of fish by the male to the female is part of the courtship display.

-

Regional Names
  • French:
    Sterne de Forster
Media Gallery
Taxanomy

CHARADRIIFORMES
LARIDAE
Sterna forsteri

Forster's Tern

Range Map

Similar Birds

similar Birds you may like

img

Aleutian Tern

Onychoprion aleuticus
Read more
img

Black Skimmer

Rynchops niger
Read more
img

Blue-gray Noddy

Anous ceruleus
Read more
img

Elegant Tern

Thalasseus elegans
Read more
img

Gray-backed Tern

Onychoprion lunatus
Read more
img

Gull-billed Tern

Gelochelidon nilotica
Read more
img

Inca Tern

Larosterna inca
Read more
img

Indian River Tern

Sterna aurantia
Read more
img

Indian Skimmer

Rynchops albicollis
Read more
img

Large-billed Tern

Phaetusa simplex
Read more
img

Least Tern

Sternula antillarum
Read more
img

Lesser Crested Tern

Thalasseus bengalensis
Read more
img

Little Tern

Sternula albifrons
Read more
img

Red-legged Kittiwake

Rissa brevirostris
Read more
img

Royal Tern

Thalasseus maximus
Read more
img

Sandwich Tern

Thalasseus sandvicensis
Read more
img

Sooty Tern

Onychoprion fuscatus
Read more
img

Whiskered Tern

Chlidonias hybrida
Read more
img

Yellow-billed Tern

Sternula superciliaris
Read more