Bird Species of the World's Boreal Forests


Sterna paradisaea
Arctic Tern


Distinguishing Features - Length: 35 cm average. Very similar to Common Tern Sterna hirundo, but with shorter blood-red bill without the black tip of Common Tern. Tail longer and legs shorter than Common Tern. Overall colouration: medium grey above with whitish neck and underparts; head, black-capped; legs, black.

Arctic Tern Habitat

Circumpolar; in the Northern Hemisphere, it breeds on the shores of the Arctic Ocean in Alaska and northernmost Canada, and northern Russia and Scandinavia; southern range extends south along British Columbia coast and Canada's east coast through the Maritimes into U.S. west and east coast states; rarely in central Canada or U.S.; nests on rocks by water.


Primarily fish, crustaceans, insects; sometimes, the eggs of other species.


The Arctic Tern is a world champion for migration. Some migrate over 32,000 km a year.

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