- 13–15 in
- 35.8 in
- 5.3–7.2 oz
- Sterne hansel (French)
- Pico de gaviota, Golondrina playera (Spanish)
- Unlike most terns, the Gull-billed Tern has a broad diet and does not depend on fish. Instead it commonly feeds on insects, small crabs, and other prey snatched from the ground, air, or even bushes. It is also known to eat small chicks of other tern species.
- Although mostly restricted to salt water habitats in North America, the Gull-billed Tern is found in a variety of fresh water habitats across Eurasia.
Breeds on gravelly or sandy beaches. Winters in salt marshes, estuaries, lagoons and plowed fields, less frequently along rivers, around lakes and in fresh-water marshes.
Fish, insects, lizards, aquatic animals, occasionally chicks of other birds.
- Clutch Size
- 1–7 eggs
- Condition at Hatching
- Downy, eyes open, able to walk but stays in nest.
Plucks prey from ground while in flight, catches flying insects. Does not generally plunge-dive for fish.
Overall, populations appear erratic, but mostly stable. Listed as "species of special concern" in California. North American populations of Gull-billed Tern are on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, which lists species most in danger of extinction without significant conservation action.
- Parnell, J. F., R. M. Erwin, and K. C. Molina. 1995. Gull-billed Tern (Sterna nilotica). In The Birds of North America, No. 140 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia and The American Ornithologistsâ€™ Union, Washington, D.C.