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Forster's Tern

Sterna forsteri ORDER: CHARADRIIFORMES FAMILY: LARIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

One of several medium-sized terns that are similar in appearance, the Forster's Tern breeds primarily in marshes and winters along the coasts. The comma-shaped black ear patch in winter plumage is distinctive, but some other plumages are very confusing.

Year End Match
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Appearance

Gull-like
Gull-like
Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • A medium-sized tern.
  • White with black cap.
  • Tail long and deeply forked.
  • Wings very white in most plumages.
  • Legs orange and relatively long.

Immature Description

Immature resembles winter adult, but has even darker primaries. May have dark centers to tertials.

Range Map Help

Forster
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Field MarksHelp

  • Adult Nonbreeding

    Forster's Tern

    Adult Nonbreeding
    • © Anton Collins, Crissy Field, San Francisco, California, January 2010
  • Adult Nonbreeding

    Forster's Tern

    Adult Nonbreeding
  • Adult Breeding

    Forster's Tern

    Adult Breeding
  • Juvenile

    Forster's Tern

    Juvenile
  • Adult Breeding

    Forster's Tern

    Adult Breeding
    • © Jim Paris, Edwin B. Forsythe NWR, Oceanville, New Jersey, May 2010
  • Adult Breeding

    Forster's Tern

    Adult Breeding
    • © Lora Render, Rollover Pass, High Island, Texas, April 2011
  • Adult Breeding

    Forster's Tern

    Adult Breeding
    • © Ned Harris, Bolsa Chica Wetlands, Huntington Beach, California, July 2011