Elegant Tern Identification

Looking for ID Help?

Get Instant ID help for 650+ North American birds.

Try Merlin Bird ID

Adult Description

Medium-sized tern. Long, slender yellow to reddish orange bill, appears to droop at tip. Short, forked tail. Complete black cap while breeding. Black in narrow, shaggy band around back of head; forehead white in winter. Mostly white all over, with some dark in wingtips. Underparts often with pink blush.

Immature Description

Juvenile similar to nonbreeding adult, but bill smaller and pale yellow to orange-red, back with variable amounts of dark spotting, and wingtips darker.
Relative Size

Relative Sizecrow sizedcrow-sized
  • Both Sexes
    • Length: 15.3-16.5 in (39-42 cm)
    • Weight: 6.7-11.5 oz (190-325 g)