Roseate Tern

Silhouette TernsTerns

Roseate Tern

Sterna dougallii
  • ORDER: Charadriiformes
  • FAMILY: Laridae
Basic Description

The Roseate Tern is a bird of elegant proportions and dazzling white breeding plumage, accented with a black cap, dark bill, and pale rosy breast. It often forages out in the ocean and nests on hard-to-visit islands. It swoops and dives for small, schooling fish, its extra-long tail fluttering behind it. Hard hit by the plume trade at the turn of the 20th century, Roseate Terns are still federally Endangered or Threatened in the U.S. and are on the Partners in Flight Yellow Watch List.

More ID Info
image of range map for Roseate TernRange map provided by Birds of the WorldExplore Maps

Find This Bird

In North America, breeding Roseate Terns are split between New England and the Caribbean. A good way to find them is to take a chartered boat trip out to nesting islands (May through July) or visit Cape Cod or Long Island beaches, where small numbers gather from July through early September. On several of the Florida Keys, Roseate Terns nest on rooftops, where you can see them coming and going from late April through July. Roseate Terns often flock with Common Terns, but are paler, slightly smaller, slimmer, and longer tailed.

Other Names
  • Charrán Rosado (Spanish)
  • Sterne de Dougall (French)
  • Cool Facts