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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 Resident
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       Yes
Philippines Unknown Extant        
Poland Vagrant Extant        
Portugal Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Puerto Rico (to USA) Native Extant       Yes
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       Yes
Somalia Native Extant Yes      
South Africa Native Extant Yes      
Spain Native Extant       Yes
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       Yes
United Arab Emirates Vagrant Extant   Yes    
United Kingdom Native Extant Yes      
USA Native Extant Yes      
Vanuatu Vagrant Extant        
Venezuela Native Extant       Yes
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 Houtman Abrolhos 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 and vicinity site factsheet
Ghana Songor Ramsar Site site factsheet
Ireland Dublin Bay site factsheet
Ireland Lady's Island Lake site factsheet
Ireland Rockabill 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
New Caledonia (to France) Îlots de Poindimié site factsheet
New Caledonia (to France) Îlots du lagon sud site factsheet
New Caledonia (to France) Îlots du Nord-Ouest 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 (2015) Species factsheet: Sterna dougallii. Downloaded from on 26/04/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/04/2015.

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 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
- Projected distributions under climate change