Common Tern Sterna hirundo Linnaeus, 1758
Order: Charadriiformes Family: Sternidae
Status: Breeding in Madeira
Recommended birdwatching tours & sea trips to watch this bird
Common Tern Field ID Keys
Shape & Size
A stocky fairly small marine tern with longish bill and neck and short legs. Tale does not go beyond wing tips.
The Common Tern has a white body with the upperparts of wings and abdomen being light grey. The bird has a black cap and orange legs and bill; very often there is a black tip to the bill.
Although it is not an exclusively coastal species, on Madeira this bird tends to stay away from human settlements and concentrates on small islets and coastal areas.
This species is broadly distributed around Europe and the world. In Madeira it is a migratory bird that comes to nest in the summer in small numbers throughout all the islands of the archipelago. The Common Tern usually reaches Madeira in.
Distinction from similar species
It may be confused with Roseate Tern thought the latter lacks dusky band under wingtips when in flight or dark shoulders when sitting.
Sterna hirundo Biometrics
Wingspan: 79 - 81 cm (Harrison, 1985)
Total length: 32 - 38 cm (Harrison, 1985)
Weight: 90 - 150 g (Hume, 2002)
Other Bird Facts
Seasonality in Madeira: Between March and October
Breeding: Builds its nests on islets and rocky cliffs between May and June, laying 2 to 4 eggs in each annual brood. The eggs are incubated mainly by the female and hatch in about 20 days.
Diet: Plunge-dive for small fish and aquatic invertebrates and insects
Madeira local status by Romano et al, 2010: Common breeding bird
Madeira local status by Zino et al, 1995: Very Common breeding bird
Conservation status by the IUCN Red List Categories, 2013: Least Concern ver 3.1
Name of this species in other languages
Madeiran: Garajau comum
Spanish: Charrán Común
French: Sterne pierregarin
Italian: Sterna comune
Polish: Rybitwa rzeczna
Slovak: Rybár riečny
Czech: Rybák obecný
English synonyms: Sea-swallow
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