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Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii

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 Near Threatened

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) 765,000
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 34,000,000
Number of locations -
Fragmentation -

Population & trend

  Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals poor Estimated 2009
Population trend Unknown -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Largest subpopulation - - -
Generation length (yrs) 10.2 - - -
Population justification: The global population is estimated to number c.70,000-82,000 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.100-100,000 breeding pairs and c.50-10,000 individuals on migration in Taiwan and c.100-10,000 breeding pairs and c.50-1,000 individuals on migration in Japan (Brazil 2009).
Trend justification: The overall population trend is uncertain, as some populations are decreasing, while others are increasing or stable (Wetlands International 2006).

Country/Territory distribution

Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Breeding Non-breeding Passage
Anguilla (to UK) Native Extant Yes    
Antigua and Barbuda Native Extant      
Aruba (to Netherlands) Native Extant Yes    
Australia Native Extant Yes    
Austria Vagrant Extant      
Bahamas Native Extant      
Bahrain Vagrant Extant     Yes
Barbados Vagrant Extant      
Belgium Vagrant Extant      
Belize Native Extant      
Benin Unknown Extant      
Bermuda (to UK) Vagrant Extant     Yes
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (to Netherlands) Native Extant     Yes
Brazil Native Extant   Yes  
Brunei Vagrant Extant      
Cambodia Unknown Extant      
Cameroon Unknown Extant      
Canada Native Extant Yes    
Cayman Islands (to UK) Unknown Extant      
China (mainland) Native Extant Yes    
Christmas Island (to Australia) Unknown Extant      
Colombia Vagrant Extant      
Comoros Unknown Extant      
Côte d'Ivoire Unknown Extant      
Cuba Native Extant Yes    
Curaçao (to Netherlands) Native Extant     Yes
Denmark Vagrant Extant      
Dominica Native Extant      
Dominican Republic Native Extant   Yes Yes
Egypt Vagrant Extant      
Equatorial Guinea Unknown Extant      
Fiji Unknown Extant      
France Native Extant Yes   Yes
French Guiana Unknown Extant      
French Southern Territories Unknown Extant      
Gambia Vagrant Extant      
Germany Vagrant Extant      
Ghana Native Extant      
Gibraltar (to UK) Vagrant Extant      
Grenada Native Extant      
Guadeloupe (to France) Native Extant Yes   Yes
Guatemala Unknown Extant   Yes  
Guinea Unknown Extant      
Guinea-Bissau Unknown Extant      
Guyana Unknown Extant      
Haiti Native Extant      
India Native Extant Yes    
Indonesia Native Extant Yes    
Iran, Islamic Republic of Unknown Extant      
Ireland Native Extant Yes   Yes
Israel Vagrant Extant      
Jamaica Native Extant Yes    
Japan Native Extant      
Kenya Native Extant Yes    
Liberia Unknown Extant      
Libya Vagrant Extant      
Madagascar Native Extant Yes    
Malaysia Unknown Extant      
Malta Vagrant Extant      
Martinique (to France) Native Extant Yes    
Mauritania Unknown Extant      
Mauritius Native Extant Yes    
Mayotte (to France) Unknown Extant      
Mexico Native Extant      
Micronesia, Federated States of Unknown Extant      
Montserrat (to UK) Native Extant      
Mozambique Unknown Extant      
Myanmar Vagrant Extant      
Nauru Unknown Extant      
Netherlands Vagrant Extant      
New Caledonia (to France) Native Extant Yes    
Nigeria Unknown Extant      
Norfolk Island (to Australia) Unknown Extant      
Norway Vagrant Extant      
Oman Native Extant Yes    
Pakistan Unknown Extant      
Palau Unknown Extant      
Panama Unknown Extant      
Papua New Guinea Native Extant      
Philippines Unknown Extant      
Poland Vagrant Extant      
Portugal Native Extant Yes   Yes
Puerto Rico (to USA) Native Extant      
Réunion (to France) Unknown Extant      
São Tomé e Príncipe Unknown Extant      
Saudi Arabia Vagrant Extant     Yes
Senegal Unknown Extant      
Seychelles Native Extant Yes    
Sierra Leone Unknown Extant      
Singapore Vagrant Extant   Yes  
Sint Maarten (to Netherlands) Native Extant     Yes
Solomon Islands Native Extant      
Somalia Native Extant Yes    
South Africa Native Extant Yes    
Spain Native Extant      
Sri Lanka Native Extant Yes    
St Kitts and Nevis Native Extant Yes    
St Lucia Native Extant Yes    
St Martin (to France) Native Extant Yes    
St Pierre and Miquelon (to France) Vagrant Extant   Yes  
St Vincent and the Grenadines Native Extant      
Suriname Unknown Extant      
Sweden Vagrant Extant      
Switzerland Vagrant Extant      
Taiwan (China) Native Extant Yes    
Tanzania Native Extant Yes    
Thailand Unknown Extant      
Timor-Leste Unknown Extant      
Togo Unknown Extant      
Trinidad and Tobago Vagrant Extant   Yes  
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) Native Extant      
United Arab Emirates Vagrant Extant   Yes  
United Kingdom Native Extant Yes    
USA Native Extant Yes    
Vanuatu Vagrant Extant      
Venezuela Native Extant      
Vietnam Vagrant Extant      
Virgin Islands (to UK) Native Extant Yes    
Virgin Islands (to USA) Native Extant Yes    
Yemen Vagrant Extant     Yes

Important Bird Areas where this species has triggered the IBA criteria

Country/Territory IBA Name IBA link
Anguilla (to UK) Scrub Island site factsheet
Aruba (to Netherlands) San Nicolas Bay Reef Islands site factsheet
Australia Bountiful Islands site factsheet
Australia Cape York to Cape Grenville Islands site factsheet
Australia Haul Round Island site factsheet
Australia Higginson Island site factsheet
Australia Islet off NE Grooyte Eylandt site factsheet
Australia Lacepede Islands site factsheet
Australia Low Rocks and Sterna Island (Kimberley) site factsheet
Australia Montebello Islands site factsheet
Australia Pearce, Urquhart and Hervey Islands (Sir Edward Pellew Group) site factsheet
Australia Sandy Island and Low Rock (Gulf of Carpentaria) site factsheet
Australia Sunday Island (Exmouth Gulf) site factsheet
Australia Swain Reefs site factsheet
Bahamas Booby Island site factsheet
Bahamas Cay Lobos site factsheet
Bahamas Cay Sal site factsheet
Bahamas Graham's Harbour site factsheet
Bahamas Great Inagua site factsheet
Bahamas Guana Cays site factsheet
Bahamas North Atlantic Abaco Cays site factsheet
Bahamas Tee Cay, Goat Cay and Long Rocks site factsheet
Belize Belize Off-shore and Barrier Islands site factsheet
Brazil Mangue Seco site factsheet
Brunei Brunei Bay site factsheet
Canada Country Island Complex site factsheet
China (mainland) Dongtou Islands site factsheet
China (mainland) Jiushan Islands Nature Reserve site factsheet
China (mainland) Taizhou Islands site factsheet
China (mainland) Wuyu Dao Island site factsheet
China (mainland) Zhongjieshan Islands site factsheet
France Baies de Morlaix et de Carantec site factsheet
France Cap Gris-nez site factsheet
France Ile de Goulmedec site factsheet
France Iles de la Colombière, de la Nellière et des Haches site factsheet
Ghana Densu Delta Ramsar Site site factsheet
Ghana Songor Ramsar Site site factsheet
Japan Okinawa coastal islets site factsheet
Japan Yaeyama islands site factsheet
Kenya Kisite island site factsheet
Kenya Kiunga Marine National Reserve site factsheet
Kenya Mida Creek, Whale Island and the Malindi - Watamu coast site factsheet
Madagascar Cape Anorontany archipelago site factsheet
Madagascar Iles Barren complex site factsheet
Madagascar Southwestern Coastal Wetlands and Nosy Manitse site factsheet
Madagascar Tambohorano wetland Complex site factsheet
Martinique (to France) Ilets Boiseau et Petit Piton site factsheet
Martinique (to France) Pointe Pain de Sucre site factsheet
Mauritius Cargados Carajos shoals (Saint Brandon) site factsheet
Oman Bandar Jussah site factsheet
Oman Barr al Hikman site factsheet
Oman Daymaniyat Islands site factsheet
Oman Khawr ad Dahariz site factsheet
Oman Khawr Hassan site factsheet
Oman Masirah island site factsheet
Portugal Capelinhos site factsheet
Portugal Contendas site factsheet
Portugal Corvo e Flores site factsheet
Portugal Costa das Flores site factsheet
Portugal Costa do Corvo site factsheet
Portugal Faial site factsheet
Portugal Furnas - Santo António site factsheet
Portugal Graciosa site factsheet
Portugal Ilhéu da Praia site factsheet
Portugal Ilhéu da Vila site factsheet
Portugal Ilhéu das Lagoínhas e Costa Adjacente site factsheet
Portugal Ilhéu de Baixo e Costa Adjacente site factsheet
Portugal Ilhéu do Topo e Costa Adjacente site factsheet
Portugal Pico - Norte site factsheet
Portugal Ponta da Ilha e Terra Alta site factsheet
Portugal Ponta de São Lourenço site factsheet
Portugal Porto Santo Oeste site factsheet
Portugal Ribeirinha site factsheet
Portugal Santa Maria site factsheet
Portugal São Jorge - Nordeste site factsheet
Portugal São Jorge - Oeste site factsheet
Portugal São Miguel - Sul site factsheet
Portugal Serra Branca site factsheet
Portugal Terceira site factsheet
Puerto Rico (to USA) Caño Tiburones site factsheet
Puerto Rico (to USA) Karso del Sur site factsheet
Puerto Rico (to USA) Suroeste site factsheet
Seychelles Aride island site factsheet
Seychelles Etoile island site factsheet
Somalia Jasiira lagoon and Muqdisho islets site factsheet
South Africa Algoa Bay Island Nature Reserve site factsheet
Spain Salmor rocky islets site factsheet
St Lucia Point Sables site factsheet
St Vincent and the Grenadines All Awash Island site factsheet
St Vincent and the Grenadines Petit Canouan site factsheet
Taiwan (China) Matsu (Mazu) Islands Tern Refuge site factsheet
Taiwan (China) Northeastern Sea Islets site factsheet
Taiwan (China) Northern Sea Islets site factsheet
Taiwan (China) Southern Sea Islets site factsheet
Tanzania Dar es Salaam coast site factsheet
Tanzania Zanzibar Island-South Coast site factsheet
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) Caicos Bank Southern Cays site factsheet
United Kingdom Coquet Island site factsheet
United Kingdom Farne Islands site factsheet
United Kingdom Firth of Forth Islands site factsheet
United Kingdom Larne Lough site factsheet
United Kingdom North Norfolk Coast site factsheet
United Kingdom Ynys Feurig, Cemlyn Bay and the Skerries site factsheet
Virgin Islands (to UK) Anegada: Western salt ponds and coastal areas site factsheet
Virgin Islands (to UK) Green Cay site factsheet
Virgin Islands (to USA) Saba Island and Cays site factsheet

Habitats & altitude

Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Marine Coastal/Supratidal Sea Cliffs and Rocky Offshore Islands major non-breeding
Marine Intertidal Salt Marshes (Emergent Grasses) marginal breeding
Marine Intertidal Sandy Shoreline and/or Beaches, Sand Bars, Spits, Etc major non-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) suitable breeding
Marine Oceanic Epipelagic (0-200m) suitable passage
Marine Oceanic Mesopelagic (200-1000m) suitable breeding
Marine Oceanic Mesopelagic (200-1000m) suitable passage
Altitude 0 - 18 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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Sterna dougallii. Downloaded from on 16/04/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 16/04/2014.

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 Montagu, 1813
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Unknown
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 765,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Summary information on this species
- Climate change species distributions