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Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea
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
2010 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) 10,300,000
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 52,200,000
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) 13.4 - - -
Population justification: The global population is estimated to number > c.2,000,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while the population in Russia has been estimated at c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration (Brazil 2009).
Trend justification: The overall population trend is decreasing, although some populations have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006).

Country/Territory distribution

Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Breeding Non-breeding Passage Resident
Algeria Vagrant Extant        
Angola Native Extant        
Antarctica Native Extant   Yes    
Argentina Native Extant        
Australia Native Extant        
Austria Native Extant     Yes  
Belarus Vagrant Extant        
Belgium Native Extant Yes      
Benin Native Extant        
Bermuda (to UK) Native Extant        
Bolivia Native Extant        
Bouvet Island (to Norway) Unknown Extant        
Brazil Native Extant        
British Indian Ocean Territory Native Extant        
Bulgaria Vagrant Extant        
Cameroon Native Extant        
Canada Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Cape Verde Native Extant        
Central African Republic Vagrant Extant        
Chile Native Extant        
Colombia Native Extant        
Congo Native Extant        
Congo, The Democratic Republic of the Vagrant Extant        
Costa Rica Native Extant     Yes  
Côte d'Ivoire Native Extant        
Croatia Vagrant Extant        
Cuba Native Extant        
Cyprus Vagrant Extant        
Czech Republic Vagrant Extant        
Denmark Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Ecuador Native Extant        
Egypt Vagrant Extant        
Equatorial Guinea Native Extant        
Estonia Native Extant Yes      
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Native Extant        
Faroe Islands (to Denmark) Native Extant Yes      
Finland Native Extant Yes   Yes  
France Native Extant     Yes Yes
French Southern Territories Vagrant Extant        
Gabon Native Extant        
Gambia Native Extant        
Germany Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Ghana Native Extant        
Gibraltar (to UK) Vagrant Extant        
Greece Native Extant        
Greenland (to Denmark) Native Extant Yes      
Guadeloupe (to France) Vagrant Extant     Yes  
Guatemala Unknown Extant        
Guinea Native Extant        
Guinea-Bissau Native Extant        
Heard Island and McDonald Islands (to Australia) Unknown Extant        
Hungary Vagrant Extant        
Iceland Native Extant Yes      
India Vagrant Extant        
Indonesia Vagrant Extant        
Ireland Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Israel Vagrant Extant        
Italy Vagrant Extant        
Japan Native Extant        
Jordan Vagrant Extant        
Kuwait Vagrant Extant     Yes  
Latvia Native Extant Yes      
Lesotho Vagrant Extant        
Liberia Native Extant        
Libya Vagrant Extant        
Lithuania Native Extant Yes      
Luxembourg Vagrant Extant        
Marshall Islands Vagrant Extant        
Mauritania Native Extant        
Mexico Native Extant        
Montenegro Vagrant Extant        
Morocco Native Extant        
Mozambique Vagrant Extant        
Namibia Native Extant        
Netherlands Native Extant Yes      
New Zealand Native Extant        
Nigeria Native Extant        
Norway Native Extant Yes      
Oman Vagrant Extant     Yes  
Panama Vagrant Extant   Yes    
Paraguay Native Extant        
Peru Native Extant        
Poland Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Portugal Native Extant        
Puerto Rico (to USA) Native Extant        
Russia (Asian) Native Extant Yes      
Russia (Central Asian) Native Extant Yes      
Russia (European) Native Extant Yes      
Senegal Vagrant Extant        
Serbia Vagrant Extant        
Sierra Leone Native Extant        
Slovakia Vagrant Extant        
Somalia Native Extant        
South Africa Native Extant        
South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands Native Extant        
Spain Native Extant Yes      
St Helena (to UK) Vagrant Extant        
St Pierre and Miquelon (to France) Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Sudan Vagrant Extant     Yes  
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Native Extant Yes      
Sweden Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Switzerland Vagrant Extant        
Togo Native Extant        
Turkey Vagrant Extant        
Ukraine Vagrant Extant        
United Arab Emirates Vagrant Extant     Yes  
United Kingdom Native Extant Yes      
Uruguay Vagrant Extant        
USA Native Extant Yes      
Virgin Islands (to USA) Vagrant Extant        

Important Bird Areas where this species has triggered the IBA criteria

Country/Territory IBA Name IBA link
Denmark Islands and coast between Skælskør Fjord and Glænø site factsheet
Denmark Roskilde Fjord, Selsø and Kattinge Søerne site factsheet
Denmark South Læsø site factsheet
Denmark Sydfynske Ø-hav site factsheet
Estonia Kahtla-Kübassaare site factsheet
Estonia Kolga bay site factsheet
Estonia Lahemaa site factsheet
Estonia Pärnu bay (NEW) site factsheet
Estonia Siiksaare-Oessaare bays site factsheet
Estonia Väinameri site factsheet
Estonia Vaindloo island site factsheet
Finland Itäinen Suomenlahti National Park site factsheet
Finland Merenkurkku archipelago site factsheet
Finland Rauma and Luvia archipelagos site factsheet
France Cap Gris-nez site factsheet
Greenland (to Denmark) Kitsissunnguit (Grønne Ejland) site factsheet
Iceland Hrísey site factsheet
Ireland Aran Islands (parts) site factsheet
Ireland Connemara Islands site factsheet
Ireland Inishkeeragh and Illancrone site factsheet
Ireland Lady's Island Lake site factsheet
Ireland Magharee Islands, Mucklaghmore and Illaunbarnagh site factsheet
Latvia Randu meadows site factsheet
Netherlands Griend site factsheet
Netherlands Lauwersmeer site factsheet
Netherlands Rottumeroog site factsheet
Netherlands Rottumerplaat site factsheet
Netherlands Texel: Schorren and Zeeburg site factsheet
Norway Altaelvmunningen site factsheet
Norway Froan site factsheet
Russia (Central Asian) Basins of the Schuchya and Khadytayakha rivers site factsheet
Russia (Central Asian) Lower Yuribey site factsheet
Russia (Central Asian) Upper and Middle Yuribey site factsheet
Russia (Central Asian) Valley of headwaters of the river Schuchya site factsheet
Russia (European) Onega Bay of the White Sea site factsheet
Russia (European) Solovetski Archipelago and Zjizjginski island site factsheet
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Bjørnøya (Bear Island) site factsheet
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Midterhuken & Eholmen site factsheet
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Northeast Svalbard Nature Reserve site factsheet
Sweden Holmöarna archipelago site factsheet
Sweden Outer Stockholm archipelago site factsheet
Sweden The Archipelago of Nothern Hälsingland site factsheet
United Kingdom Copeland Islands site factsheet
United Kingdom Coquet Island site factsheet
United Kingdom Fair Isle site factsheet
United Kingdom Farne Islands site factsheet
United Kingdom Foula site factsheet
United Kingdom Northumbria Coast site factsheet
United Kingdom Papa Stour site factsheet
United Kingdom Papa Westray (North Hill and Holm) site factsheet
United Kingdom Rousay site factsheet
United Kingdom Sleibhtean Agus Chladach Thiriodh site factsheet
United Kingdom Solent Marshes and Southampton Water site factsheet
United Kingdom Strangford Lough and islands site factsheet
United Kingdom Uists Machairs, Lochs and Coast site factsheet
United Kingdom West Westray site factsheet
United Kingdom Ynys Feurig, Cemlyn Bay and the Skerries site factsheet
USA Barrow Canyon & Smith Bay site factsheet
USA Beaufort Sea Nearshore site factsheet
USA Chukchi Sea Nearshore site factsheet
USA Prince William Sound site factsheet

Habitats & altitude

Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Grassland Tundra suitable breeding
Marine Coastal/Supratidal Coastal Brackish/Saline Lagoons/Marine Lakes suitable breeding
Marine Intertidal Sandy Shoreline and/or Beaches, Sand Bars, Spits, Etc suitable breeding
Marine Intertidal Shingle and/or Pebble Shoreline and/or Beaches major 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
Wetlands (inland) Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands suitable breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha) suitable breeding
Wetlands (inland) Tundra Wetlands (incl. pools and temporary waters from snowmelt) suitable breeding
Altitude 0 - 100 m Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact

Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Climate change & severe weather Habitat shifting & alteration Timing Scope Severity Impact
Future Whole (>90%) Unknown Unknown
Indirect ecosystem effects, Ecosystem degradation


Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Pets Whole Adults and juveniles Wild International Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Sterna paradisaea. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016.

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 Pontoppidan, 1763
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 10,300,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Summary information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment