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

Range: 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.

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

Local Subspecies: affinis

Size: 34.5-37.5 cm

Identification: 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 visitor

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):

Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica
Average number of individuals by week based on Singapore Bird Database data, Jul 2012 to Jun 2022 (all records)
Peak week Sep 17-Sep 23
Early date 08 Sep 2021
Late date 30 Jun 2019
Mid-September appears to be the peak time for this rare visitor. This is usually the period when a few are seen in coastal locations, mainly in the north of Singapore.


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.

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