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White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

IUCN Red List history

Year Category
2012 Least Concern
2009 Least Concern
2008 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern

Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency Does not normally occur in forest
Land mass type   Average mass -


  Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 6,200,000 medium
Number of locations -
Fragmentation -

Population & trend

  Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals poor Estimated 2009
Population trend Stable Suspected -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Largest subpopulation - - -
Generation length (yrs) 9.9 - - -
Population justification: The global population is estimated to number c.2,500,000-4,500,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while national population estimates include: c.100-10,000 breeding pairs, c.50-1,000 individuals on migration and c.50-1,000 wintering individuals in China; c.50-10,000 individuals on migration and c.50-1,000 wintering individuals in Taiwan; < c.1,000 individuals on migration in Korea and c.100-10,000 breeding pairs and c.50-1,000 individuals on migration in Russia (Brazil 2009).
Trend justification: The overall population trend is stable, although some populations have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006).

Country/Territory distribution

Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Breeding Non-breeding Passage Resident
Afghanistan Vagrant Extant        
Albania Native Extant        
Algeria Native Extant        
Angola Native Extant        
Antigua and Barbuda Vagrant Extant        
Armenia Native Extant Yes      
Australia Native Extant        
Austria Native Extant     Yes  
Azerbaijan Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Bahamas Vagrant Extant        
Bahrain Native Extant     Yes  
Bangladesh Native Extant        
Barbados Vagrant Extant        
Belarus Native Extant Yes      
Belgium Vagrant Extant        
Benin Native Extant        
Bosnia and Herzegovina Native Extant        
Botswana Native Extant        
Brunei Native Extant        
Bulgaria Native Extant Yes      
Burkina Faso Native Extant        
Burundi Native Extant        
Cambodia Native Extant        
Cameroon Native Extant        
Canada Vagrant Extant        
Central African Republic Native Extant        
Chad Native Extant        
China (mainland) Native Extant        
Cocos (Keeling) Islands (to Australia) Vagrant Extant        
Congo Native Extant        
Congo, The Democratic Republic of the Native Extant        
Côte d'Ivoire Native Extant        
Croatia Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Cyprus Native Extant     Yes  
Czech Republic Native Extant        
Denmark Native Extant     Yes  
Djibouti Native Extant        
Dominica Vagrant Extant        
Egypt Native Extant        
Equatorial Guinea Native Extant        
Eritrea Native Extant        
Estonia Native Extant Yes      
Ethiopia Native Extant        
Faroe Islands (to Denmark) Vagrant Extant        
Finland Vagrant Extant        
France Native Extant Yes      
Gabon Native Extant        
Gambia Native Extant        
Georgia Native Extant Yes      
Germany Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Ghana Native Extant        
Gibraltar (to UK) Vagrant Extant        
Greece Native Extant     Yes  
Guadeloupe (to France) Vagrant Extant        
Guam (to USA) Native Extant   Yes    
Guinea Native Extant        
Guinea-Bissau Native Extant        
Hong Kong (China) Native Extant        
Hungary Native Extant Yes      
Iceland Vagrant Extant        
India Native Extant        
Indonesia Native Extant        
Iran, Islamic Republic of Native Extant     Yes  
Iraq Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Ireland Vagrant Extant        
Israel Native Extant     Yes  
Italy Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Japan Native Extant        
Jordan Native Extant     Yes  
Kazakhstan Native Extant Yes      
Kenya Native Extant        
Kuwait Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Laos Native Extant        
Latvia Native Extant Yes      
Lebanon Native Extant     Yes  
Lesotho Vagrant Extant        
Liberia Native Extant        
Libya Native Extant        
Lithuania Native Extant Yes      
Luxembourg Vagrant Extant        
Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Native Extant Yes      
Madagascar Native Extant        
Malawi Native Extant        
Malaysia Native Extant   Yes    
Maldives Native Extant        
Mali Native Extant        
Malta Native Extant        
Marshall Islands Vagrant Extant        
Martinique (to France) Vagrant Extant        
Mauritania Native Extant        
Micronesia, Federated States of Native Extant   Yes    
Moldova Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Mongolia Native Extant Yes      
Montenegro Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Montserrat (to UK) Vagrant Extant        
Morocco Native Extant        
Mozambique Native Extant        
Myanmar Native Extant        
Namibia Native Extant        
Nauru Vagrant Extant        
Nepal Native Extant        
Netherlands Native Extant Yes      
New Zealand Native Extant        
Niger Native Extant        
Nigeria Native Extant        
North Korea Native Extant        
Northern Mariana Islands (to USA) Native Extant   Yes    
Norway Vagrant Extant        
Oman Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Pakistan Native Extant        
Palau Native Extant   Yes    
Palestinian Authority Territories Native Extant     Yes  
Papua New Guinea Native Extant        
Philippines Native Extant   Yes    
Poland Native Extant Yes      
Portugal Vagrant Extant        
Puerto Rico (to USA) Vagrant Extant        
Qatar Native Extant     Yes  
Réunion (to France) Vagrant Extant        
Romania Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Russia Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Russia (Asian) Native Extant Yes      
Russia (Central Asian) Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Russia (European) Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Rwanda Native Extant        
São Tomé e Príncipe Vagrant Extant        
Saudi Arabia Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Senegal Native Extant        
Serbia Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Seychelles Native Extant        
Sierra Leone Native Extant        
Singapore Native Extant        
Slovakia Native Extant Yes      
Slovenia Native Extant     Yes  
Solomon Islands Vagrant Extant        
Somalia Native Extant        
South Africa Native Extant        
South Korea Native Extant        
South Sudan Native Extant   Yes    
Spain Native Extant        
Sri Lanka Native Extant        
St Kitts and Nevis Vagrant Extant        
St Lucia Vagrant Extant        
St Vincent and the Grenadines Vagrant Extant        
Sudan Native Extant        
Swaziland Native Extant        
Sweden Vagrant Extant        
Switzerland Native Extant        
Syria Native Extant     Yes  
Taiwan (China) Native Extant        
Tajikistan Native Extant Yes      
Tanzania Native Extant        
Thailand Native Extant        
Timor-Leste Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Togo Native Extant        
Tunisia Native Extant        
Turkey Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Turkmenistan Native Extant Yes      
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) Vagrant Extant        
Uganda Native Extant        
Ukraine Native Extant Yes   Yes  
United Arab Emirates Native Extant     Yes  
United Kingdom Vagrant Extant        
USA Vagrant Extant        
Uzbekistan Native Extant        
Vietnam Native Extant        
Virgin Islands (to USA) Vagrant Extant        
Yemen Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Zambia Native Extant        
Zimbabwe Native Extant        

Important Bird Areas where this species has triggered the IBA criteria

Country/Territory IBA Name IBA link
Belarus Dakudaŭskaje site factsheet
Belarus Mid Prypiac' site factsheet
Burundi Rusizi National Park site factsheet
China (mainland) Wuyumen site factsheet
Ethiopia Abijatta - Shalla Lakes National Park site factsheet
Israel Carmel coast site factsheet
Israel Southern Arava valley and Elat mountains site factsheet
Kenya Masinga reservoir site factsheet
Malaysia North-central Selangor coast site factsheet
Malaysia Pulau Bruit National Park site factsheet
Malaysia South-west Johor coast site factsheet
Mali Lac Débo - Lac Oualado Débo site factsheet
Mali Lac Faguibine site factsheet
Mali Lac Horo site factsheet
Mauritania Gâat Mahmoûdé site factsheet
Philippines Manila Bay site factsheet
Russia (Central Asian) Chernoye Lake site factsheet
Russia (Central Asian) Shchuch'ye lake site factsheet
Russia (European) Bryn' site factsheet
Russia (European) Delta of the River Don site factsheet
Russia (European) Kizlyar Bay site factsheet
Russia (European) Kozinka lake and Baranikovski segment of Manych site factsheet
Russia (European) Nizhnekamskaya flood-plain site factsheet
Russia (European) Ptich'ya magistral' area site factsheet
Russia (European) Ressetinskiye floods site factsheet
Russia (European) Valley of Zhizdra river site factsheet
Saudi Arabia National Wildlife Research Center and environs, Taif site factsheet
Senegal Lac de Guiers site factsheet
Senegal Niayes (from Dakar to St Louis) site factsheet
South Africa Barberspan and Leeupan site factsheet
South Africa Berg River Estuary site factsheet
South Africa False Bay Nature Reserve site factsheet
South Africa Grasslands site factsheet
South Africa Richards Bay Game Reserve site factsheet
Sudan Gezira site factsheet
Tanzania Lake Kitangire site factsheet
Tanzania Lake Manyara site factsheet
Tanzania Lake Rukwa site factsheet
Tanzania Lake Victoria: Mara Bay and Masirori swamp site factsheet
Tanzania Moyowosi - Kigosi Game Reserves site factsheet
Tanzania Serengeti National Park site factsheet
Uganda Lutembe Bay site factsheet
Uganda Sango Bay area site factsheet
Ukraine Pryp'yat' river valley site factsheet
Ukraine Sosyns'kyj protected area site factsheet
Ukraine Stokhod river valley site factsheet
Ukraine Udaj river valley site factsheet
Zambia Bangweulu Swamps site factsheet
Zambia Barotse Floodplains site factsheet
Zambia Kafue Flats site factsheet

Habitats & altitude

Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Artificial/Aquatic & Marine Irrigated Land (includes irrigation channels) Suitable non-breeding
Artificial/Aquatic & Marine Seasonally Flooded Agricultural Land Suitable breeding
Artificial/Aquatic & Marine Water Storage Areas (over 8ha) Suitable non-breeding
Artificial/Terrestrial Arable Land Suitable non-breeding
Artificial/Terrestrial Pastureland Suitable non-breeding
Grassland Subtropical/Tropical Seasonally Wet/Flooded Suitable non-breeding
Marine Intertidal Rocky Shoreline Suitable passage
Marine Intertidal Tidepools Suitable passage
Wetlands (inland) Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands Major breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha) Suitable non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha) Suitable breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha) Suitable non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls) Suitable non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Saline, Brackish or Alkaline Lakes Suitable non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha) Suitable non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha) Suitable non-breeding
Altitude 0 - 2000 m Occasional altitudinal limits  


Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Food (human) Whole Adults and juveniles Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Recent
Pets Whole Adults and juveniles Wild International Non-trivial Recent
Sport Whole Adults and juveniles Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Recent
Sport hunting/specimen collecting - - - Subsistence, National
Food - human - - - Subsistence, National
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - - International

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Chlidonias leucopterus. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Laridae (Gulls, Terns, Skimmers)
Species name author (Temminck, 1815)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 6,200,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Summary information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment