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Sooty Tern Sterna fuscata

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 175 g


  Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 120,000
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 173,000,000
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) 10.9 - - -
Population justification: The global population is estimated to number c.21,000,000-22,000,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while the population in Japan has been estimated at < c.100,000 breeding pairs and < c.1,000 individuals on migration (Brazil 2009).
Trend justification: The overall population trend is uncertain, as some populations are decreasing, while others are increasing or have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006).

Country/Territory distribution

Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Breeding Non-breeding Passage
American Samoa Native Extant Yes    
Angola Unknown Extant      
Anguilla (to UK) Native Extant Yes    
Antigua and Barbuda Native Extant      
Argentina Native Extant      
Aruba (to Netherlands) Native Extant      
Australia Native Extant Yes    
Bahamas Native Extant      
Bahrain Vagrant Extant     Yes
Bangladesh Unknown Extant      
Barbados Native Extant      
Belgium Vagrant Extant      
Belize Native Extant      
Benin Unknown Extant      
Bermuda (to UK) Native Extant      
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (to Netherlands) Native Extant      
Brazil Native Extant      
British Indian Ocean Territory Native Extant Yes    
Cambodia Unknown Extant      
Cameroon Native Extant      
Canada Native Extant      
Cape Verde Vagrant Extant      
Cayman Islands (to UK) Native Extant      
Chile Native Extant      
China (mainland) Native Extant      
Christmas Island (to Australia) Vagrant Extant      
Cocos (Keeling) Islands (to Australia) Native Extant Yes    
Colombia Native Extant      
Comoros Native Extant      
Congo Unknown Extant      
Congo, The Democratic Republic of the Unknown Extant      
Cook Islands Native Extant Yes    
Costa Rica Native Extant      
Côte d'Ivoire Vagrant Extant      
Cuba Native Extant      
Curaçao (to Netherlands) Native Extant      
Denmark Vagrant Extant      
Djibouti Native Extant      
Dominica Native Extant      
Dominican Republic Native Extant      
Ecuador Native Extant      
El Salvador Native Extant      
Equatorial Guinea Native Extant Yes    
Eritrea Vagrant Extant      
Fiji Native Extant      
France Vagrant Extant      
French Guiana Native Extant      
French Polynesia Native Extant Yes    
French Southern Territories Native Extant Yes    
Gabon Unknown Extant      
Gambia Unknown Extant      
Germany Vagrant Extant      
Ghana Vagrant Extant      
Grenada Native Extant      
Guadeloupe (to France) Native Extant Yes    
Guam (to USA) Native Extant   Yes  
Guatemala Native Extant      
Guinea Unknown Extant      
Guinea-Bissau Unknown Extant      
Guyana Native Extant      
Haiti Native Extant      
Honduras Native Extant      
Hong Kong (China) Vagrant Extant      
Iceland Vagrant Extant      
India Native Extant      
Indonesia Native Extant      
Iran, Islamic Republic of Native Extant   Yes  
Iraq Unknown Extant      
Israel Vagrant Extant      
Italy Vagrant Extant      
Jamaica Native Extant Yes    
Japan Native Extant      
Kenya Native Extant      
Kiribati Native Extant Yes    
Kuwait Unknown Extant      
Liberia Native Extant      
Madagascar Native Extant      
Malawi Vagrant Extant      
Malaysia Native Extant      
Maldives Native Extant Yes    
Marshall Islands Native Extant Yes    
Martinique (to France) Native Extant      
Mauritania Native Extant      
Mauritius Native Extant Yes    
Mayotte (to France) Native Extant      
Mexico Native Extant      
Micronesia, Federated States of Native Extant      
Montserrat (to UK) Native Extant      
Mozambique Native Extant      
Myanmar Native Extant      
Namibia Unknown Extant      
Nauru Native Extant Yes    
New Caledonia (to France) Native Extant      
New Zealand Native Extant Yes    
Nicaragua Native Extant      
Nigeria Native Extant      
Niue (to New Zealand) Unknown Extant      
Norfolk Island (to Australia) Native Extant Yes    
Northern Mariana Islands (to USA) Native Extant Yes    
Norway Vagrant Extant      
Oman Native Extant Yes    
Pakistan Unknown Extant      
Palau Native Extant Yes    
Panama Native Extant      
Papua New Guinea Native Extant      
Peru Native Extant      
Philippines Native Extant      
Pitcairn Islands (to UK) Native Extant Yes    
Portugal Vagrant Extant      
Puerto Rico (to USA) Native Extant      
Réunion (to France) Native Extant Yes    
Samoa Native Extant Yes    
São Tomé e Príncipe Native Extant Yes    
Saudi Arabia Vagrant Extant     Yes
Senegal Native Extant      
Seychelles Native Extant Yes    
Sierra Leone Vagrant Extant      
Singapore Unknown Extant      
Sint Maarten (to Netherlands) Native Extant      
Solomon Islands Native Extant      
Somalia Native Extant      
South Africa Native Extant      
South Korea Native Extant      
Spain Vagrant Extant      
Sri Lanka Native Extant      
St Helena (to UK) Native Extant Yes    
St Kitts and Nevis Native Extant      
St Lucia Native Extant      
St Martin (to France) Native Extant Yes    
St Vincent and the Grenadines Native Extant      
Sudan Vagrant Extant   Yes  
Suriname Native Extant      
Swaziland Vagrant Extant      
Sweden Vagrant Extant      
Taiwan (China) Native Extant      
Tanzania Native Extant Yes    
Thailand Native Extant      
Timor-Leste Unknown Extant      
Togo Unknown Extant      
Tokelau (to New Zealand) Native Extant Yes    
Tonga Native Extant Yes    
Trinidad and Tobago Native Extant      
Tunisia Vagrant Extant      
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) Native Extant Yes    
Tuvalu Native Extant Yes    
United Arab Emirates Vagrant Extant     Yes
United Kingdom Vagrant Extant      
United States Minor Outlying Islands (to USA) Native Extant Yes    
USA Native Extant Yes    
Vanuatu Native Extant Yes    
Venezuela Native Extant      
Vietnam Native Extant      
Virgin Islands (to UK) Native Extant Yes    
Virgin Islands (to USA) Native Extant Yes    
Wallis and Futuna Islands (to France) Unknown Extant      
Yemen Native Extant     Yes
Zimbabwe Vagrant Extant      

Important Bird Areas where this species has triggered the IBA criteria

Country/Territory IBA Name IBA link
Anguilla (to UK) Dog Island site factsheet
Aruba (to Netherlands) San Nicolas Bay Reef Islands site factsheet
Australia Cato Island (Coral Sea) site factsheet
Bahamas Cay Sal site factsheet
Bahamas North Atlantic Abaco Cays site factsheet
Brazil Atol das Rocas site factsheet
British Indian Ocean Territory Ile Longue, Peros Banhos site factsheet
British Indian Ocean Territory Ile Parasol, Peros Banhos site factsheet
British Indian Ocean Territory Middle Brother, Chagos Bank site factsheet
Chile Isla Rapa Nui site factsheet
Chile Isla Sala y Gómez site factsheet
Chile Islas Desventuradas site factsheet
Dominican Republic Jaragua National Park site factsheet
French Southern Territories Europa site factsheet
French Southern Territories Ile du Lys, Glorieuses Archipelago site factsheet
French Southern Territories Juan de Nova site factsheet
Guadeloupe (to France) Islet of Tête à l’Anglais site factsheet
Jamaica Morant Cays and Bank site factsheet
Jamaica Pedro Cays and Bank site factsheet
Martinique (to France) Îlets et falaises de Sainte Anne site factsheet
Mauritius Cargados Carajos shoals (Saint Brandon) site factsheet
Mauritius Serpent Island site factsheet
Puerto Rico (to USA) Culebra site factsheet
São Tomé e Príncipe Tinhosas islands site factsheet
Seychelles African Banks site factsheet
Seychelles Aride island site factsheet
Seychelles Bird Island site factsheet
Seychelles Cosmoledo atoll site factsheet
Seychelles Desnoeufs island site factsheet
Seychelles Islets of Farquhar atoll site factsheet
St Helena (to UK) Ascension Island: mainland and stacks site factsheet
St Lucia Point Sables site factsheet
St Vincent and the Grenadines Petit Canouan site factsheet
Tanzania Latham Island site factsheet
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) Turks Bank Seabird Cays site factsheet
USA Northwestern Hawaiian Islands site factsheet
Venezuela Refugio de Fauna Silvestre Isla de Aves site factsheet
Venezuela Wildlife Refuge Bird Island - Marine 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 suitable breeding
Marine Intertidal Rocky Shoreline suitable breeding
Marine Intertidal Sandy Shoreline and/or Beaches, Sand Bars, Spits, Etc major breeding
Marine Intertidal Shingle and/or Pebble Shoreline and/or Beaches major breeding
Marine Intertidal Tidepools suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic major breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic major non-breeding
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
Marine Oceanic Epipelagic (0-200m) major breeding
Marine Oceanic Epipelagic (0-200m) major non-breeding
Marine Oceanic Mesopelagic (200-1000m) major breeding
Marine Oceanic Mesopelagic (200-1000m) major non-breeding
Altitude 0 - 50 m Occasional altitudinal limits  


Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Food (human) Whole Eggs Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Recent
Pets Whole Adults and juveniles Wild International Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Sterna fuscata. Downloaded from on 19/04/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 19/04/2014.

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 Linnaeus, 1766
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Unknown
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 120,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Summary information on this species
- Climate change species distributions