- ORDER: Charadriiformes
- FAMILY: Laridae
The Sandwich Tern is a sleek, medium-sized tern with a ragged black crest and a gleaming black bill with a sharp yellow tip. It's smaller and slimmer than a Royal Tern, a species it often nests alongside in busy, shrieking colonies along the barrier islands of the southeastern U.S. (Its broad global range also includes the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa, and Europe.) Rarely found inland or out to sea, this is a bird of ocean shores and estuaries, where it hunts small schooling fish.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Look for Sandwich Terns during summer on sandy beaches and islands of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. They're often mixed in with other terns and gulls, so whether you're watching a flock at rest on a beach or a group in flight over the water, look for a tern that's huskier than a Common Tern but daintier than a Royal. Then zero in and look for the ragged crest and the yellow-tipped, black bill.
- Charrán Patinegro (Spanish)
- Sterne caugek (French)
- Cool Facts
- Sandwich Terns are relatively mild mannered around their nests compared to quick-to-attack species such as Common Terns, which are famous for dive-bombing people and predators that approach too closely. Sandwich Terns often nest among Common Terns and probably derive some benefit from their behavior.
- The two subspecies of Sandwich Tern breeding in North America and Eurasia have black bills with yellow tips. A third subspecies known as the "Cayenne Tern" is found in the southern Caribbean and the Atlantic Coast of South America. It has an all-yellow or pale-orange bill,
- The oldest recorded Sandwich Tern was an individual at least 31 years, 2 months old that had been banded in North Carolina and was recovered in California.