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Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis

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 192 g


  Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 1,200,000 medium
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 3,410,000 medium
Number of locations -
Fragmentation -

Population & trend

  Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals poor Estimated 2009
Population trend Stable -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Largest subpopulation - - -
Generation length (yrs) 10.8 - - -
Trend justification: The overall population trend is fluctuating, although some populations are stable, others have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006). This species has undergone a small or statistically insignificant increase over the last 40 years in North America (data from Breeding Bird Survey and/or Christmas Bird Count: Butcher and Niven 2007) Note, however, that these surveys cover less than 50% of the species's range in North America.

Country/Territory distribution

Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Breeding Non-breeding Passage Resident
Albania Native Extant   Yes    
Algeria Native Extant        
Angola Native Extant        
Anguilla (to UK) Native Extant        
Antigua and Barbuda Native Extant        
Argentina Native Extant        
Aruba (to Netherlands) Native Extant        
Azerbaijan Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Bahamas Native Extant        
Bahrain Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Barbados Native Extant        
Belgium Native Extant Yes      
Belize Native Extant        
Benin Native Extant        
Bermuda (to UK) Vagrant Extant        
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (to Netherlands) Native Extant        
Bosnia and Herzegovina Vagrant Extant        
Brazil Native Extant        
Bulgaria Native Extant       Yes
Cameroon Native Extant        
Cape Verde Native Extant        
Cayman Islands (to UK) Native Extant        
Chile Native Extant        
Colombia Native Extant        
Congo Native Extant        
Congo, The Democratic Republic of the Native Extant        
Costa Rica Native Extant   Yes    
Côte d'Ivoire Native Extant        
Croatia Native Extant   Yes    
Cuba Native Extant        
Curaçao (to Netherlands) Native Extant        
Cyprus Native Extant   Yes    
Czech Republic Vagrant Extant        
Denmark Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Djibouti Vagrant Extant        
Dominica Native Extant        
Dominican Republic Native Extant        
Ecuador Native Extant        
Egypt Native Extant        
El Salvador Native Extant        
Equatorial Guinea Native Extant   Yes    
Eritrea Native Extant        
Estonia Native Extant Yes      
Ethiopia Vagrant Extant        
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Vagrant Extant        
Faroe Islands (to Denmark) Vagrant Extant        
Finland Vagrant Extant        
France Native Extant     Yes Yes
French Guiana Native Extant        
Gabon Native Extant        
Gambia Native Extant        
Germany Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Ghana Native Extant        
Gibraltar (to UK) Native Extant   Yes    
Greece Native Extant     Yes Yes
Grenada Native Extant        
Guadeloupe (to France) Native Extant        
Guatemala Native Extant        
Guinea Native Extant        
Guinea-Bissau Native Extant        
Guyana Native Extant        
Haiti Native Extant        
Honduras Unknown Extant        
Hungary Vagrant Extant        
Iceland Vagrant Extant        
India Native Extant        
Iran, Islamic Republic of Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Iraq Native Extant     Yes  
Ireland Native Extant Yes      
Israel Native Extant        
Italy Native Extant     Yes Yes
Jamaica Native Extant        
Jordan Native Extant     Yes  
Kazakhstan Native Extant Yes      
Kenya Native Extant        
Kuwait Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Latvia Native Extant        
Lebanon Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Liberia Native Extant        
Libya Native Extant        
Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Native Extant       Yes
Malta Native Extant   Yes    
Martinique (to France) Native Extant        
Mauritania Native Extant        
Mexico Native Extant        
Montenegro Vagrant Extant        
Montserrat (to UK) Native Extant        
Morocco Native Extant        
Mozambique Native Extant        
Namibia Native Extant        
Netherlands Native Extant       Yes
Nicaragua Native Extant        
Nigeria Native Extant        
Norway Native Extant Yes      
Oman Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Pakistan Native Extant        
Palestinian Authority Territories Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Panama Native Extant        
Peru Native Extant        
Poland Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Portugal Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Puerto Rico (to USA) Native Extant        
Qatar Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Romania Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Russia (European) Native Extant Yes      
São Tomé e Príncipe Native Extant        
Saudi Arabia Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Senegal Native Extant        
Serbia Vagrant Extant        
Seychelles Vagrant Extant        
Sierra Leone Native Extant        
Sint Maarten (to Netherlands) Native Extant        
Slovakia Vagrant Extant        
Slovenia Native Extant   Yes    
Somalia Vagrant Extant        
South Africa Native Extant        
Spain Native Extant     Yes Yes
Sri Lanka Native Extant        
St Kitts and Nevis Native Extant        
St Lucia Native Extant        
St Martin (to France) Unknown Extant        
St Pierre and Miquelon (to France) Vagrant Extant     Yes  
St Vincent and the Grenadines Native Extant        
Sudan Native Extant     Yes  
Suriname Native Extant        
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Vagrant Extant        
Sweden Native Extant Yes      
Switzerland Native Extant        
Syria Native Extant     Yes  
Tanzania Native Extant        
Togo Native Extant        
Trinidad and Tobago Native Extant        
Tunisia Native Extant   Yes    
Turkey Native Extant       Yes
Turkmenistan Native Extant Yes      
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) Native Extant   Yes    
Ukraine Native Extant Yes   Yes  
United Arab Emirates Native Extant   Yes Yes  
United Kingdom Native Extant Yes      
Uruguay Native Extant Yes      
USA Native Extant Yes      
Venezuela 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  

Important Bird Areas where this species has triggered the IBA criteria

Country/Territory IBA Name IBA link
Aruba (to Netherlands) Oranjestad Reef Islands site factsheet
Aruba (to Netherlands) San Nicolas Bay Reef Islands site factsheet
Azerbaijan Pirsagat Islands and Los Island site factsheet
Azerbaijan Shahdidi spit site factsheet
Azerbaijan Yashma Island site factsheet
Bahamas Cay Sal (superseded 26/03/2015) site factsheet
Bahamas Great Inagua site factsheet
Bahamas Guana Cays site factsheet
Belgium Voorhaven Zeebrugge and Baai van Heist site factsheet
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (to Netherlands) Pelkermeer Saltworks, Bonaire site factsheet
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (to Netherlands) Washington-Slagbaai National Park, Bonaire site factsheet
Brazil Ilhas Comprida e Cananéia site factsheet
Brazil Ilhas do Litoral Sul do Espírito Santo site factsheet
Bulgaria Atanasovsko Lake site factsheet
Bulgaria Pomorie Lake site factsheet
Croatia Kvarner Islands site factsheet
Cuba Cayería Centro - Oriental de Villa Clara site factsheet
Denmark Eastern German Bight site factsheet
Denmark Hirsholmene site factsheet
Denmark Nissum Fjord site factsheet
Denmark Odense Fjord site factsheet
Denmark Ringkøbing Fjord site factsheet
Denmark Skallingen and Langli site factsheet
Dominican Republic Jaragua National Park site factsheet
Estonia Pärnu bay (NEW) site factsheet
Estonia Väinameri site factsheet
France Archipel des Glénan site factsheet
France Baie des Veys et Marais du Cotentin site factsheet
France Baies de Morlaix et de Carantec site factsheet
France Bassin d'Arcachon et Banc d'Arguin site factsheet
France Camargue site factsheet
France Cap Gris-nez site factsheet
France Cordon lagunaire de Sète à Agde site factsheet
France Estuaire et embouchure de la Seine site factsheet
France Ile de Goulmedec site factsheet
France Iles Chausey site factsheet
France Iles de la Colombière, de la Nellière et des Haches site factsheet
France Ilôts de Trévorc'h site factsheet
France Littoral Augeron site factsheet
France Petite Camargue laguno-marine site factsheet
French Guiana Amana site factsheet
French Guiana Amana - Marine site factsheet
French Guiana Connétable site factsheet
French Guiana Connétable - Marine site factsheet
French Guiana Plaine Kaw et Pointe Béhague site factsheet
Gambia Niumi National Park site factsheet
Gambia Tanji River (Karinti) Bird Reserve site factsheet
Ghana Densu Delta Ramsar Site and vicinity site factsheet
Ghana Keta Lagoon Ramsar Site site factsheet
Ghana Muni-Pomadze Ramsar Site site factsheet
Ghana Sakumo Lagoon Ramsar Site and vicinity site factsheet
Ghana Songor Ramsar Site site factsheet
Greece Amvrakikos gulf site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Miankaleh Peninsula and Gorgan Bay site factsheet
Ireland Broadhaven, Blacksod and Tullaghan Bays and parts of the Mullet peninsula site factsheet
Ireland Connemara Bogs (south-east), including Roundstone Bog site factsheet
Ireland Connemara Islands site factsheet
Ireland Cross Lough (Killadoon) site factsheet
Ireland Inner Galway Bay site factsheet
Ireland Lady's Island Lake site factsheet
Ireland Lough Swilly including Blanket Nook and Inch Lake site factsheet
Italy Argentario, Orbetello Lagoon and Burano Lake site factsheet
Italy Simeto mouth and middle course and Biviere di Lentini site factsheet
Italy Sinis and Oristano wetlands site factsheet
Italy Valli di Comacchio and Bonifica del Mezzano site factsheet
Italy Venice lagoon site factsheet
Jamaica Black River Great Morass site factsheet
Kazakhstan Tyulen’i (Seal) Islands site factsheet
Mauritania Banc d'Arguin National Park site factsheet
Mauritania Cap Blanc site factsheet
Morocco Dakhla area site factsheet
Namibia Sandwich Harbour site factsheet
Netherlands Grevelingen site factsheet
Netherlands Griend site factsheet
Netherlands Texel: Schorren and Zeeburg site factsheet
Netherlands Westerschelde and Saeftinghe site factsheet
Netherlands Westplaat site factsheet
Oman Barr al Hikman site factsheet
Oman Duqm site factsheet
Oman Masirah island site factsheet
Oman Ras al Hadd site factsheet
Poland Puck Bay site factsheet
Poland Vistula river mouth site factsheet
Puerto Rico (to USA) Suroeste site factsheet
Romania Black Sea site factsheet
Romania Danube Delta site factsheet
Russia (European) Delta of the Kuban' river site factsheet
Russia (European) Khanskoye Lake site factsheet
Russia (European) Kiziltash limans site factsheet
Russia (European) Maly Zhemchuzhny island site factsheet
Russia (European) Sulakskaya bay site factsheet
Russia (European) Yeiski salt-lakes site factsheet
Saudi Arabia Abu Ali site factsheet
Senegal Cap Vert site factsheet
Senegal Delta du Saloum site factsheet
South Africa Berg River Estuary site factsheet
South Africa False Bay Nature Reserve site factsheet
Spain Albufera de Valencia marshes site factsheet
Spain Chingudi-Bidasoa estuary site factsheet
Spain Ebro delta site factsheet
Spain Estrecho de Gibraltar site factsheet
Spain Isla Cristina and Ayamonte marshes and Prado lagoon site factsheet
Spain Llobregat delta site factsheet
Spain Plataforma Marina del Delta del Ebro - Columbretes site factsheet
St Vincent and the Grenadines Mustique Island site factsheet
Tunisia Kneiss site factsheet
Tunisia Salines de Thyna site factsheet
Turkey Gediz Delta site factsheet
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) Caicos Bank Southern Cays site factsheet
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) Grand Turk Salinas and Shores site factsheet
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) North, Middle and East Caicos Ramsar Site site factsheet
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) Salt Cay Creek and Salinas site factsheet
Ukraine Berdyans'ka peninsula site factsheet
Ukraine Bilosarajs'ka peninsula site factsheet
Ukraine Karkinits'ka and Dzharylgats'ka bays site factsheet
Ukraine Kryva peninsula site factsheet
Ukraine Kuyal'nyts'kyj lyman site factsheet
Ukraine Obytichna peninsula site factsheet
Ukraine Syvash Bay site factsheet
Ukraine Yagorlyts'ka and Tendrivs'ka Bays site factsheet
United Kingdom Carlingford Lough site factsheet
United Kingdom Chichester and Langstone Harbours site factsheet
United Kingdom Coquet Island site factsheet
United Kingdom Dee Estuary site factsheet
United Kingdom Duddon Estuary site factsheet
United Kingdom Dungeness To Pett Levels site factsheet
United Kingdom East Sanday site factsheet
United Kingdom Farne Islands site factsheet
United Kingdom Firth of Forth Islands site factsheet
United Kingdom Larne Lough site factsheet
United Kingdom Medway Estuary and Marshes site factsheet
United Kingdom North Norfolk Coast site factsheet
United Kingdom Poole Harbour site factsheet
United Kingdom Solent Marshes and Southampton Water site factsheet
United Kingdom Strangford Lough and islands site factsheet
United Kingdom Ynys Feurig, Cemlyn Bay and the Skerries site factsheet
United Kingdom Ythan Estuary, Sands of Forvie and Meikle Loch site factsheet
USA Altamaha River Delta site factsheet
USA Big Foot Island site factsheet
USA Big Marco Pass Shoal site factsheet
USA Bird Key Stono site factsheet
USA Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge site factsheet
USA Chandeleur Islands (Breton National Wildlife Refuge) site factsheet
USA Deveaux Bank site factsheet
USA Ferry Slip Island site factsheet
USA Isles Dernieres-Timbalier Islands site factsheet
USA Jigsaw Islands site factsheet
USA Sand Bag Island site factsheet
USA Sundown Island site factsheet
USA Tomkins Island site factsheet
Venezuela Parque Nacional Archipiélago Los Roques site factsheet
Venezuela Pedernales-Capure site factsheet
Venezuela Pedernales-Capure - Marine site factsheet
Virgin Islands (to UK) Anegada: Western salt ponds and coastal areas site factsheet
Virgin Islands (to USA) Saba Island and Cays site factsheet

Habitats & altitude

Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Marine Intertidal Mud Flats and Salt Flats suitable breeding
Marine Intertidal Rocky Shoreline major non-breeding
Marine Intertidal Sandy Shoreline and/or Beaches, Sand Bars, Spits, Etc major breeding
Marine Intertidal Sandy Shoreline and/or Beaches, Sand Bars, Spits, Etc major non-breeding
Marine Intertidal Shingle and/or Pebble Shoreline and/or Beaches major breeding
Marine Neritic Estuaries suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Estuaries suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp major breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) major breeding
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel major breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs major breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy major breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud major breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud major non-breeding
Marine Oceanic Epipelagic (0-200m) marginal resident
Marine Oceanic Mesopelagic (200-1000m) marginal resident
Altitude 0 - 50 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
Food (human) Whole Eggs Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Recent
Sport Whole Adults and juveniles Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Thalasseus sandvicensis. Downloaded from on 09/10/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 09/10/2015.

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 Latham, 1787
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 1,200,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Summary information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment