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

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

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

Local Subspecies: longipennis, tibetana

Size: 33-37 cm

Identification: 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: Rare migrant

Conservation Status: Least Concern (BirdLife International 2019)

Past records in our database:

Showing only accepted records. Note that records currently under review are also not displayed, and the list may not be a full list of records of this species in Singapore. For more details, check the database here.

Migrant bar chart (see more bar charts):

Common Tern Sterna hirundo
Average number of individuals by week based on Singapore Bird Database data, Jul 2016 to Jun 2023 (all records)
Peak week Sep 24-Sep 30
Early date 20 Aug 2011
Late date 17 May 2014
While historical records from Singapore's northern coast exist, all sightings in the past 10 years have been from the Singapore Strait.


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.

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