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LC
Little Tern Sternula albifrons

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 57 g

Distribution

  Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 11,800,000 medium
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 15,900,000 medium
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) 10.9 - - -
Population justification: The global population is estimated to number c.190,000-410,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while national population estimates include: c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration in China; c.100-10,000 breeding pairs, c.50-1,000 individuals on migration and c.50-1,000 wintering individuals in Taiwan; c.100-10,000 breeding pairs and c.50-1,000 individuals on migration in Korea 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 decreasing, although some populations have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006).

Country/Territory distribution

Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Breeding Non-breeding Passage Resident
Afghanistan Native Extant Yes      
Albania Native Extant Yes      
Algeria Native Extant        
Angola Vagrant Extant        
Armenia Native Extant Yes      
Australia Native Extant Yes      
Austria Native Extant     Yes  
Azerbaijan Native Extant Yes      
Bahrain Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Bangladesh Native Extant        
Belarus Native Extant Yes      
Belgium Native Extant Yes      
Benin Native Extant        
Bosnia and Herzegovina Native Extant        
British Indian Ocean Territory Native Extant        
Brunei Native Extant        
Bulgaria Native Extant Yes      
Burkina Faso Vagrant Extant        
Burundi Native Extant        
Cambodia Native Extant        
Cameroon Native Extant        
Cape Verde Vagrant Extant        
Chad Native Extant        
China (mainland) Native Extant        
Colombia Vagrant Extant        
Congo Native Extant        
Congo, The Democratic Republic of the Native Extant        
Côte d'Ivoire Native Extant        
Croatia Native Extant Yes      
Cyprus Native Extant Yes      
Czech Republic Native Extant Yes      
Denmark Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Djibouti Native Extant        
Egypt Native Extant Yes      
Equatorial Guinea Native Extant        
Eritrea Native Extant        
Estonia Native Extant Yes      
Faroe Islands (to Denmark) Vagrant Extant        
Fiji Vagrant Extant   Yes    
Finland Native Extant Yes   Yes  
France Native Extant     Yes Yes
Gabon Native Extant        
Gambia Native Extant        
Georgia Native Extant Yes      
Germany Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Ghana Native Extant        
Gibraltar (to UK) Native Extant        
Greece Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Guam (to USA) Native Extant   Yes    
Guinea Native Extant   Yes    
Guinea-Bissau Native Extant        
Hong Kong (China) Native Extant        
Hungary Native Extant Yes      
India Native Extant        
Indonesia Native Extant        
Iran, Islamic Republic of Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Iraq Native Extant       Yes
Ireland Native Extant Yes      
Israel Native Extant Yes      
Italy Native Extant Yes      
Japan Native Extant        
Jordan Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Kazakhstan Native Extant Yes      
Kenya Native Extant        
Kiribati Vagrant Extant        
Kuwait Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Kyrgyzstan Native Extant Yes      
Laos Native Extant        
Latvia Native Extant Yes      
Lebanon Vagrant Extant     Yes  
Liberia Native Extant        
Libya Native Extant        
Lithuania Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Luxembourg Vagrant Extant        
Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Native Extant Yes      
Malaysia Native Extant   Yes    
Maldives Vagrant Extant        
Mali Native Extant        
Malta Vagrant Extant        
Marshall Islands Native Extant   Yes    
Mauritania Native Extant        
Mauritius Native Extant        
Micronesia, Federated States of Native Extant   Yes    
Moldova Native Extant Yes      
Mongolia Native Extant Yes      
Montenegro Native Extant Yes      
Morocco Native Extant        
Mozambique Native Extant        
Myanmar Native Extant        
Namibia Vagrant Extant        
Nepal Native Extant        
Netherlands Native Extant Yes      
New Caledonia (to France) Vagrant Extant        
New Zealand Native Extant        
Niger Native Extant        
Nigeria Native Extant        
North Korea Native Extant Yes      
Northern Mariana Islands (to USA) Native Extant Yes      
Norway Native Extant Yes      
Oman Native Extant     Yes  
Pakistan Native Extant        
Palau Native Extant   Yes    
Palestinian Authority Territories Native Extant     Yes  
Papua New Guinea Native Extant Yes      
Philippines Native Extant        
Poland Native Extant Yes      
Portugal Native Extant Yes      
Qatar Native Extant     Yes  
Romania Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Russia (Asian) Native Extant Yes      
Russia (Central Asian) Native Extant Yes      
Russia (European) Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Samoa Vagrant Extant        
Saudi Arabia Native Extant Yes      
Senegal Native Extant Yes      
Serbia Native Extant Yes      
Seychelles Vagrant Extant        
Sierra Leone Vagrant Extant        
Singapore Native Extant        
Slovakia Native Extant Yes      
Slovenia Native Extant Yes      
Solomon Islands Native Extant        
Somalia Native Extant        
South Africa Native Extant        
South Korea Native Extant        
Spain Native Extant     Yes Yes
Sri Lanka Native Extant        
Sudan Unknown Extant        
Sweden Native Extant Yes      
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        
Tunisia Native Extant        
Turkey Native Extant Yes      
Turkmenistan Native Extant Yes      
Ukraine Native Extant Yes   Yes  
United Arab Emirates Native Extant   Yes Yes  
United Kingdom Native Extant Yes      
USA Vagrant Extant        
Uzbekistan Native Extant Yes      
Vietnam Native Extant        
Western Sahara Native Extant        
Yemen Vagrant Extant     Yes  

Important Bird Areas where this species has triggered the IBA criteria

Country/Territory IBA Name IBA link
Albania Karavasta Lagoon site factsheet
Belarus Dniepr floodplain Lojeŭ-Žary site factsheet
Belarus Mid Prypiac' site factsheet
Belarus Prypiackija baloty site factsheet
Belgium Voorhaven Zeebrugge and Baai van Heist site factsheet
Bulgaria Atanasovsko Lake site factsheet
Bulgaria Durankulak Lake site factsheet
Bulgaria Emine site factsheet
Bulgaria Mandra-Poda complex site factsheet
Bulgaria Pomorie Lake site factsheet
Bulgaria Shabla Lake Complex site factsheet
China (mainland) Desert and wetland from Northern Urumqi to Dabancheng site factsheet
China (mainland) Oasis, Desert and Wetland at Mosuowan site factsheet
China (mainland) Ulungur Hu and Jili Hu (Fu Hai) site factsheet
Denmark Fanø site factsheet
Denmark Northwestern Kattegat site factsheet
Denmark Skallingen and Langli site factsheet
Denmark Smålandsfarvandet site factsheet
Denmark Vadehavet (Wadden Sea) site factsheet
Egypt Lake Bardawil site factsheet
Egypt Lake Burullus site factsheet
Egypt Lake Manzala site factsheet
Estonia Kahtla-Kübassaare site factsheet
Estonia Kolga bay site factsheet
Estonia Pärnu bay (NEW) site factsheet
Estonia Siiksaare-Oessaare bays site factsheet
Estonia Väinameri site factsheet
France Archipel de Molène site factsheet
France Baie des Veys et Marais du Cotentin site factsheet
France Camargue site factsheet
France Cap Gris-nez site factsheet
France Cordon lagunaire de Sète à Agde site factsheet
France Estuaires du Trieux et du Jaudy site factsheet
France Etangs de Leucate et Lapalme site factsheet
France Etangs de Vendres, Pissevache et Lespignan site factsheet
France Etangs Montpellierains site factsheet
France Etangs Narbonnais site factsheet
France Ile de Goulmedec site factsheet
France Littoral Augeron site factsheet
France Marais entre Crau et Grand Rhône: Meyranne, Chanoine, Plan de Bourg et Salins du Caban site factsheet
France Petite Camargue laguno-marine site factsheet
France Salines de l'Etang de Berre site factsheet
France Salins d'Hyères et de Pesquiers site factsheet
France Val d'Allier Bourbonnais site factsheet
France Vallée de la Loire : de Nantes à Montsoreau site factsheet
France Vallée de la Loire : environs de Blois site factsheet
France Vallée de la Loire : environs de Montlouis-sur-Loire site factsheet
France Vallée de la Loire : La Charité-sur-Loire site factsheet
France Vallée de la Loire : Orléanais site factsheet
France Vallée de la Loire: Pit majeur d'Iguerande à Décize site factsheet
Gambia Tanji River (Karinti) Bird Reserve site factsheet
Ghana Densu Delta Ramsar Site site factsheet
Ghana Keta Lagoon Ramsar Site site factsheet
Ghana Songor Ramsar Site site factsheet
Greece Alyki Kitros lagoon site factsheet
Greece Amvrakikos gulf site factsheet
Greece Axios, Loudias, and Aliakmon estuaries site factsheet
Greece Evros delta site factsheet
Greece Kalamas estuary site factsheet
Greece Mesolongi and Aetoliko lagoons, and Acheloos and Evinos estuaries site factsheet
Greece Nestou delta and coastal lagoons site factsheet
Greece Porto Lagos, Lake Vistonis, and coastal lagoons (Lakes of Thrace) site factsheet
Greece Sperchios valley and delta-Maliakos gulf site factsheet
Guinea Rio Kapatchez site factsheet
Hungary Dráva site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Gomishan marshes and Turkoman steppes site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Hilleh Protected Area site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Miankaleh Peninsula and Gorgan Bay site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Shadegan marshes and tidal mudflats of Khor-al Amaya and Khor Musa site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of South Caspian shore, from Astara to Gomishan site factsheet
Ireland Connemara Islands site factsheet
Israel Carmel coast site factsheet
Japan Lake Hamanako site factsheet
Kazakhstan Korgalzhyn State Nature Reserve site factsheet
Latvia Augsdaugava site factsheet
Latvia Ovisi site factsheet
Latvia Piejura site factsheet
Latvia Randu meadows site factsheet
Lithuania Islauzas fish-ponds site factsheet
Lithuania Nemunas delta regional Park site factsheet
Lithuania Nemunas River between Pelesiskes & Balbieriskis settlements site factsheet
Lithuania Nemunas River between Prienai & Lengveniskes settlements site factsheet
Lithuania Nemunas River between Smalininkai & Kulautuva settlements site factsheet
Lithuania Varduva River and Varduva Reservoir site factsheet
Lithuania Visbarai fish-farm site factsheet
Malaysia Pulau Bruit National Park site factsheet
Mauritania Aftout es Sâheli site factsheet
Mozambique Bazaruto Archipelago site factsheet
Netherlands Haringvliet site factsheet
Netherlands Lake Volkerak site factsheet
Netherlands Rottumeroog site factsheet
Netherlands Texel: Dunes and Hors site factsheet
Netherlands Westerschelde and Saeftinghe site factsheet
Philippines Buguey wetlands site factsheet
Poland Lower Bug river valley site factsheet
Poland Lower Odra river valley site factsheet
Poland Lower Vistula River Valley site factsheet
Poland Malopolska Wisla river gap site factsheet
Poland Middle Vistula River Valley site factsheet
Poland Pilica River Valley site factsheet
Poland Puck Bay site factsheet
Poland Siemianowka Reseirvoir site factsheet
Poland Swietokrzyskie Vistula River Valley site factsheet
Poland Turek Site site factsheet
Poland Vistula river mouth site factsheet
Portugal Albufeira do Caia site factsheet
Portugal Castro Marim site factsheet
Portugal Mondego Estuary site factsheet
Portugal Ria de Aveiro site factsheet
Portugal Ria Formosa (Faro lagoon) site factsheet
Portugal Sado estuary site factsheet
Portugal Salinas de Alverca e do Forte da Casa site factsheet
Portugal Santo André and Sancha lagoons site factsheet
Portugal Tejo estuary site factsheet
Romania Black Sea site factsheet
Romania Braţul Borcea site factsheet
Romania Confluenţa Olt - Dunăre site factsheet
Romania Danube Delta site factsheet
Romania Dunăre - Ostroave site factsheet
Romania Dunărea Veche (Braţul Măcin) site factsheet
Romania Lake Beibugeac (Plopu) site factsheet
Romania Lake Bugeac site factsheet
Romania Limanu - Herghelia site factsheet
Romania Ostrovu Lung - Gostinu site factsheet
Russia (Asian) Aniva bay site factsheet
Russia (Asian) North-east Sakhalin lagoons site factsheet
Russia (European) Beglitskaya sand-spit site factsheet
Russia (European) Bulgarski site factsheet
Russia (European) Dadynskiye lakes site factsheet
Russia (European) Delta of the River Don site factsheet
Russia (European) Flood-plain of Algashka river site factsheet
Russia (European) Flood-plain of Oka river between the mouth of Klyaz'ma river and Dzerzhinsk site factsheet
Russia (European) Flood-plain of Oka river in Navashinski district site factsheet
Russia (European) Flood-plain of Volga river between Gorodets and N.Novgorod site factsheet
Russia (European) Flood-plain of Volga river between N.Novgorod and Pamyat' Parizhskoi Kommuny village site factsheet
Russia (European) Floodplain of Oka river up-stream of the Murom site factsheet
Russia (European) Forests and wetlands in the valley of the Nuzhma river site factsheet
Russia (European) Islands in the western part of Lake Manych-Gudilo site factsheet
Russia (European) Kamsko-Bakaldinskiye marshes site factsheet
Russia (European) Kamsko-Ikski area site factsheet
Russia (European) Khanskoye Lake site factsheet
Russia (European) Kiziltash limans site factsheet
Russia (European) Marshes near Pavlovskoye Zaoch'ye and adjoining floodplain of Oka river site factsheet
Russia (European) Nizhnekamskaya flood-plain site factsheet
Russia (European) Rybinsk reservoir site factsheet
Russia (European) Shumerlinskaya site factsheet
Russia (European) Sulakskaya bay site factsheet
Russia (European) Sura environs site factsheet
Russia (European) Upper Mologa river (Verestovo lake) site factsheet
Russia (European) Yeiski salt-lakes site factsheet
Russia (European) Zavidovo Nature Reserve, including Lotoshinski, Klinski and Diatlovo fish-ponds site factsheet
Senegal Parc National de la Langue de Barbarie site factsheet
Slovenia Sečovlje saltpans site factsheet
South Korea Cheonsu Bay site factsheet
South Korea Nakdong-gang estuary site factsheet
South Korea Sihwa-ho lake site factsheet
Spain Albufera de Valencia marshes site factsheet
Spain Bahía de Almería site factsheet
Spain Cádiz bay site factsheet
Spain Ebro delta site factsheet
Spain El Hondo wetland site factsheet
Spain Isla Cristina and Ayamonte marshes and Prado lagoon site factsheet
Spain Lácara-Morante site factsheet
Spain Mar Menor coastal lagoon site factsheet
Spain Mata and Torrevieja lagoons site factsheet
Spain Mountain range and saltpans at Cabo de Gata site factsheet
Spain Odiel and Tinto marshes and Huelva coastal lagoons site factsheet
Spain Plataforma Marina del Delta del Ebro - Columbretes site factsheet
Spain River Piedras marshes and Rompido sandbank site factsheet
Spain Santa Pola salt-pans site factsheet
Spain Tabarca - Cabo de Palos site factsheet
Spain Wetlands of western Almería site factsheet
Sweden Coastal areas of eastern Gotland island site factsheet
Sweden Coastal areas of eastern Öland island site factsheet
Turkey Bakırçay Delta site factsheet
Turkey Ceyhan Delta site factsheet
Turkey Ereğli Plain site factsheet
Turkey Gediz Delta site factsheet
Turkey Göksu Delta site factsheet
Turkey Meriç Delta site factsheet
Turkey Seyfe Lake site factsheet
Turkey Seyhan Delta site factsheet
Turkey Sultan Marsh site factsheet
Ukraine Karkinits'ka and Dzharylgats'ka bays site factsheet
Ukraine Kryva peninsula site factsheet
Ukraine Kuyal'nyts'kyj lyman site factsheet
Ukraine Kyivs'ke reservoir site factsheet
Ukraine Syvash Bay site factsheet
United Kingdom Alde - Ore Estuary site factsheet
United Kingdom Benacre to Easton Bavents site factsheet
United Kingdom Chesil Beach and the Fleet site factsheet
United Kingdom Chichester and Langstone Harbours site factsheet
United Kingdom Dee Estuary site factsheet
United Kingdom Duddon Estuary site factsheet
United Kingdom Eden Estuary, Tentsmuir Point and Abertay Sands site factsheet
United Kingdom Gibraltar Point site factsheet
United Kingdom Great Yarmouth North Denes site factsheet
United Kingdom Hamford Water site factsheet
United Kingdom Humber Estuary site factsheet
United Kingdom Lindisfarne site factsheet
United Kingdom Mid-Essex Coast site factsheet
United Kingdom Minsmere - Walberswick site factsheet
United Kingdom North Norfolk Coast site factsheet
United Kingdom North Uist Machair and Islands site factsheet
United Kingdom Northumbria Coast site factsheet
United Kingdom Sleibhtean Agus Chladach Thiriodh site factsheet
United Kingdom Solent Marshes and Southampton Water site factsheet
United Kingdom South Uist Machair and Lochs site factsheet
United Kingdom Teesmouth and Cleveland Coast site factsheet
United Kingdom The Wash site factsheet
United Kingdom Tiree and Coll site factsheet
United Kingdom Uists Machairs, Lochs and Coast site factsheet
United Kingdom Ythan Estuary, Sands of Forvie and Meikle Loch site factsheet
Uzbekistan Kagan Fish Farm site factsheet
Uzbekistan Rogatoe Lake site factsheet
Uzbekistan Zholdyrbas Lake site factsheet

Habitats & altitude

Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Artificial/Aquatic & Marine Salt Exploitation Sites suitable breeding
Artificial/Aquatic & Marine Salt Exploitation Sites suitable 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 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 - 2000 m Occasional altitudinal limits  

Utilisation

Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Sport Whole Adults and juveniles Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Sternula albifrons. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/08/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/08/2014.

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, Terns, Skimmers)
Species name author Pallas, 1764
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 11,800,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Summary information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change