Saturday, 15 August 2009

Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea)

OTHER NAMES: Sea Swallow, Sparling, Pickieterno, Rittock
Latin Etymology: Sterna (Old English word for Black Tern) paradisaea ("paradise")

Adult Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea) at Farne Islands, Northumbria - July 2009

Featured Subspecies: N/A
Weight: 86-127g  /  Length: 33-36cm  /  Wingspan: 76-85cm
UK AMBER LIST / IUCN Red List: Least Concern

Most famous for its pole to pole migration, the arctic tern is infact hard to differentiate from the common tern, which is, as the name suggests, more common. Generally, the arctic tern is more of a coastal bird than the common tern (although common are found at the coast, and arctic occasionally inland on passage). Though they are very similar to common terns, features such as the lack of black on the beak, a grey tinged underside and tail-streamers which extend well beyond the tips of the wings when on the ground. The Farne islands in the spring are a superb place to see this bird up close - although watch out for being dive bombed as they protect their nests!

Related Species:
Family: Sternidae

Genus: Sterna 
Subspecies - none - monotypic

- Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM Local Summer breeding migrant (53,000 pairs)

 - Common breeder on the Farne Islands

Further Notes: BirdForum Opus, IUCN Red ListRSPBWikipedia, Xeno-canto

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