Arctic Tern

Sterna paradisaea

With its long tail streamers and general shape the Arctic tern deserves the local name of ‘sea swallow’.

Appearing white with a black cap, it is largely coastal although it can be seen inland on migration. It depends on a healthy marine environment and some colonies have been affected by fish shortages. Arctic terns are the ultimate long distance migrants – summer visitors to the UK and winter visitors to the Antarctic.

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Discover more about the Arctic Tern

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When to see

A summer visitor, nesting on islands around the north of England and Scotland. Can be seen around most of our coasts and on large lakes and reservoirs during migration.

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Where to see

Shetland, Orkney and coasts around Scotland.

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Did you know?

Arctic terns are noisy in their colonies and, like most terns, will attack intruders threatening their nests, often ‘dive-bombing’ them with their sharp bills at the ready. Famed for their long migrations, they return to this country in April to breed and leave again in September.

Binoculars Icon Blue
When to see

A summer visitor, nesting on islands around the north of England and Scotland. Can be seen around most of our coasts and on large lakes and reservoirs during migration.

Map Icon Blue
Where to see

Shetland, Orkney and coasts around Scotland.

Book Icon Blue
Did you know?

Arctic terns are noisy in their colonies and, like most terns, will attack intruders threatening their nests, often ‘dive-bombing’ them with their sharp bills at the ready. Famed for their long migrations, they return to this country in April to breed and leave again in September.

Binoculars Icon Blue
When to see

A summer visitor, nesting on islands around the north of England and Scotland. Can be seen around most of our coasts and on large lakes and reservoirs during migration.

Map Icon Blue
Where to see

Shetland, Orkney and coasts around Scotland.

Book Icon Blue
Did you know?

Arctic terns are noisy in their colonies and, like most terns, will attack intruders threatening their nests, often ‘dive-bombing’ them with their sharp bills at the ready. Famed for their long migrations, they return to this country in April to breed and leave again in September.