Little Tern

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Sternula albifrons

Status: Endangered


Size 20-23cm.

Very small white and grey seabird with long narrow wings, forked tail and yellow legs. During breeding has a yellow black-tipped bill and black cap. Non breeding birds have black bill, white forehead and crown.

Feeding Habits

Feed at sea in small flocks. Fluttering rapidly, they plunge dive with wings up on shoals of small fish.


They breed in colonies on sandy beaches and sandspits, making a small scrape in the sand or shell bank, sometimes lined with scraps of seaweed. Two to three eggs are laid, and hatch in about three weeks. Both parents share the incubation.

Places to Look

The beaches and sandspits at the mouths of rivers and creeks flowing into Bowling Green Bay are all nesting sites. Walk with care!


Little Terns are an endangered species. The exposed nests are vulnerable to unrestrained dogs, beach vehicles and human impact.


NQ Dry Tropics gratefully acknowledges the contribution of Birdlife Townsville (formerly the Townsville Region Bird Observers Club) to the information on this page.

© Birdlife Townsville
© Birdlife Townsville
© Birdlife Townsville

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