Antarctic Tern (Sterna vittata )


Monotypic. Rather similar in appearance to Arctic Tern which breeds around the Arctic but spends the non-breeding season in waters used by Subantarctic Terns.


Medium sized tern, rather reminiscent of Arctic Tern. In breeding birds, the bill, legs and feet are bright red. The body plumage is pale gray with a faint whitening at the boundary of the solid black cap.

Where and When

Breed oon Tristan da Cunha, Gough Island, Iles Kerguelen, St. Paul and Amsterdam Island, South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands, South Orkney Islands, South Shetland Islands, the Antarctic Peninsula, some New Zealand subantarctic islands, Macquarie Island and Heard Island. Return to colonies in September or October. Form loose colonies which rarely exceed more than 40 widely-spread nests in any one spot.


Downes, M. C. (1952) Arctic terns in the subantarctic. The Emu 52. 306-310

Marchant and Higgins (1990). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds Vol 3. Oxford University Press.

Copyright © 2002 All rights reserved. Angus Wilson
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