Common Tern

This species is defined as a Review Species. Please submit your records of this species via our record submission page.

Scientific Name: Sterna hirundo
Malay Name: Camar Siput
Chinese Name: 普通燕鸥

Found from West Africa to Europe, temperate Asia, North and Central America, wintering to southern Africa, Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Australia and South America

Polytypic. Subspecies are: hirundo, tibetana, minussensis, longipennis.

Local Subspecies: longipennis, tibetana

Size: 33-37 cm

Non-breeding adult has slender, pointed blackish bill, dark red legs and feet, white forehead and lores, blackish mask and nape, greyish mantle and long deeply forked tail (at rest, tail same length with tips of folded wings). Breeding adult has orange-red bill with black tip, black forehead to nape and long tail-streamers. Juvenile resembles non-breeding adult but has blackish leading edge to upperwing.

Similar looking species: Gull-billed Tern, Aleutian Tern

Habitat: Open seas, coastal habitats, mudflats, marshes and reservoirs.

Behaviour/Ecology: Fishes by plunging steeply into water.

Local Status: Uncommon migrant

Conservation Status: Least Concern (BirdLife International 2019)

Featured articles:

Featured reports: Sep 2022, Oct 2022

Past accepted records in our database:

Migrant bar chart (see more bar charts):

BirdLife International. (2019). Sterna hirundo. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019. Accessed on 1 January 2023
Jeyarajasingam, A., & Pearson, A. (2012). A Field Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. Oxford University Press.
Robson, C. (2014). Field guide to the birds of South-East Asia (Second Edition). Bloomsbury Publishing, London.