Gull-billed Tern

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

Scientific Name: Gelochelidon nilotica
Malay Name: Camar Paruh Tebal Biasa
Chinese Name: 鸥嘴噪鸥

Found in southern Europe, temperate and eastern Asia, north America, eastern South America and Australia. Northern populations winter south to Africa, Middle East, Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Caribbean and northern South America.

Polytypic. Subspecies are: nilotica, affinis, aranea, vanrossemi, gronvoldi.

Local Subspecies: affinis

Size: 34.5-37.5 cm

Non-breeding adult resembles Whiskered Tern but much larger and thicker-billed, has white head with blackish ear-coverts, pale silvery-grey rump and shallow forked tail. Breeding adult has black forehead to nape.

Similar looking species: Black-naped Tern, Common Tern, Whiskered Tern

Habitat: Open seas and mudflat.

Behaviour/Ecology: Has a broad diet and does not depend on fish like other tern species, feeding on insects, small crabs and other prey snatched from the ground, air, or even bushes.

Local Status: Rare passage migrant.

Conservation Status: Least Concern (BirdLife International 2019)

Featured articles:

Featured reports: Sep 2022, Nov 2022

Past accepted records in our database:

Migrant bar chart (see more bar charts):

BirdLife International. (2019). Gelochelidon nilotica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019. Accessed on 1 January 2023
Robson, C. (2014). Field guide to the birds of South-East Asia (Second Edition). Bloomsbury Publishing, London.