• Skip to Content
  • Skip to Main Navigation
  • Skip to Local Navigation
  • Skip to Search
  • Skip to Sitemap
  • Skip to Footer

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.

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
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

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
×

Search

Or Browse Bird Guide by Family, Name or Shape
×
bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

The Cornell Lab will send you updates about birds, birding, and opportunities to help bird conservation. You can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell or give your email address to others.