Little Tern

Scientific Name: Sternula albifrons

Malay Name: Camar Kecil Biasa

Chinese Name: 白额燕鸥

Range: Found from Africa to Europe, temperate Asia, Middle East, Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Australia.

Taxonomy: Polytypic. Subspecies are: albifrons, guineae, sinensis.

Local Subspecies: sinensis

Size: 22-25 cm

Identification: Easily distinguished from Whiskered and White-wing Terns that share same habitat by small size and short-tailed appearance. Non-breeding adult has dark bill, legs and feet, white lores and forecrown, blackish hindcrown with whitish streaks and black nape. Breeding adult has yellow bill with black tip, black crown, nape, eyestripe and well defined white forehead. Juvenile resembles non-breeding adult but has dark subterminal markings on mantle, scapulars, tertials and wing-coverts.

Similar looking species: Whiskered Tern, White-winged Tern

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

Behaviour/Ecology: Forages by hovering over water surface before diving in with body rarely becomes fully submerged.

Local Status: Common resident

Conservation Status: Least Concern (BirdLife International 2019)

Location: Lorong Halus, Seletar Dam, Jurong Lake Park, Kranji Reservoir, Straits of Johor and Straits of Singapore.


BirdLife International. (2019). Sternula albifrons. 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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