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Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica

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 214.69 g

Distribution

  Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 7,950,000
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 11,600,000
Number of locations -
Fragmentation -

Population & trend

  Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals poor Estimated 2009
Population trend Decreasing -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Largest subpopulation - - -
Generation length (yrs) 11.7 - - -
Population justification: The global population is estimated to number c.150,000-420,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while national population estimates include: c.100-10,000 breeding pairs and c.50-1,000 individuals on migration in China; c.50-1,000 individuals on migration and < c.50 wintering individuals in Taiwan and < c.1,000 individuals on migration in Japan (Brazil 2009).
Trend justification: Although Wetlands International consider the population to be increasing, the population is suspected to be in decline owing to habitat loss and degradation in the core of its range (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Country/Territory distribution

Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Breeding Non-breeding Passage
Afghanistan Native Extant Yes   Yes
Albania Native Extant Yes    
Algeria Native Extant      
Angola Vagrant Extant      
Anguilla (to UK) Unknown Extant      
Antigua and Barbuda Native Extant      
Argentina Native Extant      
Armenia Native Extant Yes    
Aruba (to Netherlands) Native Extant      
Australia Native Extant Yes    
Austria Native Extant     Yes
Azerbaijan Native Extant Yes    
Bahamas Native Extant      
Bahrain Native Extant   Yes Yes
Bangladesh Native Extant      
Barbados Native Extant      
Belgium Vagrant Extant      
Belize Native Extant   Yes  
Benin Native Extant   Yes  
Bermuda (to UK) Vagrant Extant      
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (to Netherlands) Native Extant      
Bosnia and Herzegovina Vagrant Extant      
Botswana Vagrant Extant      
Brazil Native Extant      
Brunei Native Extant      
Bulgaria Native Extant     Yes
Burkina Faso Native Extant      
Burundi Native Extant      
Cambodia Native Extant      
Cameroon Native Extant      
Canada Native Extant      
Cayman Islands (to UK) Native Extant      
Chad Native Extant      
China (mainland) Native Extant      
Colombia Native Extant      
Comoros Vagrant Extant      
Congo, The Democratic Republic of the Native Extant      
Costa Rica Native Extant   Yes  
Côte d'Ivoire Native Extant      
Croatia Vagrant Extant      
Cuba Native Extant      
Curaçao (to Netherlands) Native Extant      
Cyprus Native Extant     Yes
Czech Republic Native Extant      
Denmark Native Extant Yes    
Djibouti Native Extant      
Dominica Native Extant      
Dominican Republic Native Extant      
Ecuador Native Extant Yes    
Egypt Native Extant      
El Salvador Native Extant      
Eritrea Native Extant      
Ethiopia Native Extant      
Finland Vagrant Extant      
France Native Extant Yes   Yes
French Guiana Native Extant      
Gabon Vagrant Extant      
Gambia Native Extant      
Germany Native Extant Yes    
Ghana Native Extant      
Gibraltar (to UK) Native Extant      
Greece Native Extant Yes   Yes
Guadeloupe (to France) Native Extant   Yes  
Guam (to USA) Vagrant Extant      
Guatemala Native Extant      
Guinea Native Extant      
Guinea-Bissau Native Extant      
Guyana Native Extant      
Haiti Native Extant      
Honduras Native Extant      
Hungary Vagrant Extant      
India Native Extant      
Indonesia Native Extant      
Iran, Islamic Republic of Native Extant     Yes
Iraq Native Extant     Yes
Ireland Vagrant Extant      
Israel Native Extant      
Italy Native Extant Yes   Yes
Jamaica Vagrant Extant      
Japan Native Extant      
Jordan Native Extant Yes   Yes
Kazakhstan Native Extant Yes    
Kenya Native Extant      
Kuwait Native Extant     Yes
Kyrgyzstan Native Extant Yes    
Lebanon Vagrant Extant     Yes
Liberia Native Extant      
Libya Native Extant      
Luxembourg Vagrant Extant      
Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Native Extant Yes    
Malawi Native Extant      
Malaysia Native Extant   Yes  
Maldives Native Extant Yes    
Mali Native Extant      
Malta Native Extant      
Martinique (to France) Native Extant      
Mauritania Native Extant Yes    
Mexico Native Extant      
Moldova Native Extant Yes    
Mongolia Native Extant Yes    
Montenegro Vagrant Extant      
Montserrat (to UK) Native Extant      
Morocco Native Extant      
Myanmar Native Extant      
Nepal Native Extant      
New Zealand Native Extant      
Nicaragua Native Extant      
Niger Native Extant      
Nigeria Native Extant      
Northern Mariana Islands (to USA) Unknown Extant      
Norway Vagrant Extant      
Oman Native Extant   Yes Yes
Pakistan Native Extant      
Palestinian Authority Territories Native Extant     Yes
Panama Native Extant      
Papua New Guinea Unknown Extant      
Paraguay Native Extant      
Peru Native Extant      
Philippines Native Extant      
Poland Vagrant Extant      
Portugal Native Extant Yes    
Puerto Rico (to USA) Native Extant      
Qatar Native Extant   Yes Yes
Romania Native Extant Yes   Yes
Russia (Asian) Native Extant Yes    
Russia (Central Asian) Native Extant Yes    
Russia (European) Native Extant Yes   Yes
Rwanda Native Extant      
Saudi Arabia Native Extant   Yes Yes
Senegal Native Extant Yes    
Serbia Vagrant Extant      
Seychelles Vagrant Extant      
Sierra Leone Native Extant      
Singapore Native Extant      
Sint Maarten (to Netherlands) Native Extant      
Slovakia Vagrant Extant      
Slovenia Vagrant Extant      
Somalia Native Extant      
South Africa Vagrant Extant      
South Korea Vagrant Extant      
South Sudan Native Extant   Yes  
Spain Native Extant     Yes
Sri Lanka Native Extant      
St Kitts and Nevis Native Extant      
St Lucia Native Extant      
St Martin (to France) Vagrant Extant   Yes  
St Vincent and the Grenadines Native Extant      
Sudan Native Extant      
Suriname Native Extant      
Sweden Vagrant Extant      
Switzerland Native Extant      
Syria Native Extant Yes   Yes
Taiwan (China) Native Extant      
Tajikistan Native Extant Yes    
Tanzania Native Extant      
Thailand Native Extant      
Timor-Leste Native Extant   Yes  
Togo Native Extant      
Trinidad and Tobago Native Extant      
Tunisia Native Extant      
Turkey Native Extant      
Turkmenistan Native Extant Yes    
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) Native Extant Yes    
Uganda Native Extant      
Ukraine Native Extant Yes   Yes
United Arab Emirates Native Extant   Yes Yes
United Kingdom Vagrant Extant      
Uruguay Native Extant Yes    
USA Native Extant Yes    
Uzbekistan Native Extant Yes    
Venezuela Native Extant      
Vietnam Native Extant      
Virgin Islands (to UK) Native Extant   Yes  
Virgin Islands (to USA) Native Extant   Yes  
Western Sahara Native Extant      
Yemen Native Extant   Yes Yes
Zambia Native Extant      
Zimbabwe Vagrant Extant      

Important Bird Areas where this species has triggered the IBA criteria

Country/Territory IBA Name IBA link
Afghanistan Ab-i-Istada site factsheet
Australia Goyder Lagoon site factsheet
Australia Lake Sylvester System site factsheet
Australia Mandora Marsh and Anna Plains site factsheet
Bahamas Cat Island Wetlands site factsheet
Bahamas Great Inagua site factsheet
Bahamas Grog Pond site factsheet
Bahamas Harrold and Wilson Ponds National Park site factsheet
Bahamas Southern Great Lake site factsheet
China (mainland) Dongzhaigang site factsheet
Colombia Parque Nacional Natural Sanquianga site factsheet
Cuba Cayo Sabinal, Ballenatos y Manglares de la Bahía de Nuevitas site factsheet
Cuba Humedal Sur de Sancti Spiritus site factsheet
Ecuador Ciénaga de La Segua site factsheet
Ecuador Humedales de Pacoa site factsheet
Ecuador Lagunas de Ecuasal-Salinas site factsheet
Ethiopia Abijatta - Shalla Lakes National Park site factsheet
France Camargue site factsheet
France Petite Camargue fluvio-lacustre site factsheet
France Petite Camargue laguno-marine site factsheet
Ghana Keta Lagoon Ramsar Site site factsheet
Greece Alyki Kitros lagoon site factsheet
Greece Alyki lagoon, Aegion site factsheet
Greece Amvrakikos gulf site factsheet
Greece Divari Pilou lagoon (Gialova) site factsheet
Greece Evros delta site factsheet
Greece Mesolongi and Aetoliko lagoons, and Acheloos and Evinos estuaries site factsheet
Guinea-Bissau Arquipélago dos Bijagós site factsheet
Honduras Laguna Caratasca site factsheet
India Kole Wetland site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Khouran Straits site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Shadegan marshes and tidal mudflats of Khor-al Amaya and Khor Musa site factsheet
Iraq Khawr Abdallah site factsheet
Kazakhstan Korgalzhyn State Nature Reserve site factsheet
Kazakhstan Lesser Aral Sea site factsheet
Kenya Lake Nakuru National Park site factsheet
Kenya Tana River Delta site factsheet
Malaysia North-central Selangor coast site factsheet
Malaysia Pulau Bruit National Park site factsheet
Mali Lac Débo - Lac Oualado Débo site factsheet
Mauritania Aftout es Sâheli site factsheet
Mauritania Banc d'Arguin National Park site factsheet
Morocco Barrage al Massira site factsheet
Philippines Manila Bay site factsheet
Romania Black Sea site factsheet
Romania Danube Delta site factsheet
Russia (European) Dadynskiye lakes site factsheet
Russia (European) Delta of the River Don site factsheet
Russia (European) Islands in the western part of Lake Manych-Gudilo site factsheet
Russia (European) Khanskoye Lake site factsheet
Russia (European) Kiziltash limans site factsheet
Russia (European) Kozinka lake and Baranikovski segment of Manych site factsheet
Russia (European) Kurnikov liman site factsheet
Russia (European) Lake Ayke site factsheet
Saudi Arabia Jiddah south corniche and port site factsheet
Saudi Arabia Jizan Bay site factsheet
Saudi Arabia Tarut Bay site factsheet
Senegal Delta du Saloum site factsheet
Senegal Parc National de la Langue de Barbarie site factsheet
Spain Albufera de Valencia marshes site factsheet
Spain Alcázar de San Juan-Quero endorreic lagoons site factsheet
Spain Ebro delta site factsheet
Spain Fuente de Piedra, Gosque and Campillos lakes site factsheet
Spain Mar Menor coastal lagoon site factsheet
Spain Pedro Muñoz-Manjavacas endorreic lagoons site factsheet
Spain Pela mountain range-Orellana reservoir-Zorita site factsheet
Spain Tembleque-La Guardia plains site factsheet
Tanzania Lake Kitangire site factsheet
Tanzania Lake Manyara National Park site factsheet
Tanzania Nyumba ya Mungu reservoir site factsheet
Tanzania Rufiji Delta site factsheet
Tanzania Serengeti National Park site factsheet
Tanzania Singida lakes site factsheet
Tunisia Kneiss site factsheet
Tunisia Salines de Thyna site factsheet
Tunisia Sebkhet Kelbia site factsheet
Turkey Acıgöl Lake site factsheet
Turkey Akşehir and Eber Lakes site factsheet
Turkey Bolluk Lake site factsheet
Turkey Bulanık and Malazgirt Plains site factsheet
Turkey Çöl Lake and Çalıkdüzü site factsheet
Turkey Erçek Lake site factsheet
Turkey Eşmekaya Marshes site factsheet
Turkey Kozanlı Gökgöl site factsheet
Turkey Kulu Lake site factsheet
Turkey Seyfe Lake site factsheet
Turkey Sultan Marsh site factsheet
Turkey Tuz Lake site factsheet
Turkmenistan Goyungyrlan site factsheet
Turkmenistan Sarygamysh site factsheet
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) East Caicos and adjacent areas site factsheet
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) Fish Ponds and Crossing Place Trail, Middle Caicos site factsheet
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) North, Middle and East Caicos Ramsar Site site factsheet
Uganda Lutembe Bay site factsheet
Uganda Queen Elizabeth National Park and Lake George site factsheet
Ukraine Karkinits'ka and Dzharylgats'ka bays site factsheet
Ukraine Kazantip Cape, Aktash lake and Astanins'ka marsh site factsheet
Ukraine Syvash Bay site factsheet
Uzbekistan Kagan Fish Farm site factsheet
Yemen Aden site factsheet

Habitats & altitude

Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Artificial/Aquatic & Marine Irrigated Land (includes irrigation channels) suitable breeding
Artificial/Aquatic & Marine Irrigated Land (includes irrigation channels) suitable non-breeding
Artificial/Aquatic & Marine Water Storage Areas (over 8ha) major breeding
Artificial/Aquatic & Marine Water Storage Areas (over 8ha) major non-breeding
Marine Coastal/Supratidal Coastal Brackish/Saline Lagoons/Marine Lakes suitable breeding
Marine Coastal/Supratidal Coastal Brackish/Saline Lagoons/Marine Lakes suitable non-breeding
Marine Coastal/Supratidal Coastal Freshwater Lakes suitable breeding
Marine Coastal/Supratidal Coastal Freshwater Lakes suitable non-breeding
Marine Coastal/Supratidal Coastal Sand Dunes major breeding
Marine Intertidal Sandy Shoreline and/or Beaches, Sand Bars, Spits, Etc major breeding
Marine Neritic Estuaries suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Estuaries suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic marginal resident
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud suitable non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha) suitable breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha) suitable non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls) suitable breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls) suitable non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha) suitable breeding
Wetlands (inland) Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha) suitable non-breeding
Altitude 0 - 100 m Occasional altitudinal limits  

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Sterna nilotica. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 13/07/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 13/07/2014.

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 and terns)
Species name author Gmelin, 1789
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 7,950,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Summary information on this species
- Climate change species distributions