Common Tern
Sterna hirundo

– medium-sized tern
– considerably smaller and lighter weighted than Common Black-headed Gull
– diurnal migrant, but probably nocturnal as well
– migrates in small (sometimes large), loose flocks (in swift migration in dense flocks) or as family-party (summer)


Common Tern Sterna h. hirundo, 1CY
BIF2151, 05/07/20070, Spain, Martin Grimm


Common Tern Sterna h. hirundo, 1CY
BIF0992, 13/09/2010, North Sea, offshore, Mathias Putze


Common Tern Sterna h. hirundo, 1CY
BIF0993, 23/08/2012, Cuxhaven, Germany, Mathias Putze


Common Tern Sterna h. hirundo, 1CY
BIF0994, 13/09/2010, North Sea, offshore, Mathias Putze


Common Tern Sterna h. hirundo, 1CY
BIF2152, 03/10/2008, Rügen, Germany, Martin Grimm


Common Tern Sterna h. hirundo, 1CY
BIF2153, 22/09/2015, Helgoland, Germany, Roland Neumann


Common Tern Sterna h. hirundo, 1CY
BIF2154, 22/09/2015, Helgoland, Germany, Roland Neumann
same as BIF2153


Common Tern Sterna h. hirundo, 2CY
BIF0995, 21/09/2013, Cuxhaven, Germany, Mathias Putze


Common Tern Sterna h. hirundo, AD BREED
BIF0099, 07/05/2009, North Sea, offshore, Germany, Mathias Putze


Common Tern Sterna h. hirundo, AD BREED
BIF0098, 30/06/2010, Hortobágy, Hungary, Mathias Putze


Common Tern Sterna h. hirundo, AD BREED
BIF0181, 01/08/2013, Delitzsch, Germany, Mathias Putze


Common Tern Sterna h. hirundo, AD BREED
BIF0182, 01/08/2013, Delitzsch, Germany, Mathias Putze


Common Tern Sterna hirundo longipennis, AD BREED
BIF0180, 28/05/2014, Öndörchaan, Mongolia, Mathias Putze




Common Tern Sterna h. hirundo, AD flight call, ‘KIP’ call, 1CY ‘KIT’ call
BIF0100, 05/08/2010, North Sea, offshore, Patrick Franke


Common Tern Sterna h. hirundo, 1CY ‘KIT’ and ‘KRIA’ call
BIF2132, 23/09/2015, Helgoland, Germany, Roland Neumann



Common Tern Sterna h. hirundo, 1CY ‘KIT’ call, AD ‘KRIA’ call
BIF2742, 24/08/2018, North Sea, offshore, Patrick Franke


Common Tern Sterna h. hirundo, AD F begging call
BIF2744, 10/04/2009, Nürnberg, Germany, Patrick Franke


Common Tern Sterna h. hirundo, AD flight call, ‘kria’ call, ‘kip’ call; JUV begging call, ‘kit’ call
BIF2745, 06/09/2018, North Sea, offshore, Roland Neumann

voice: 
– very vocal
– a variety of calls to be heard during migration
– during spring migration AD birds utter several calls related to courtship and breeding too
– AD flight call is 0.3-0.4 sec in length, slightly downslurred, screechy
– the AD flight call is similar to ‘KRIA’ calls (breeding grounds) in most cases including the voice break and harsh terminal elements
– during spring migration AD F begging calls are not uncommon
– most common call of 1CY birds in autumn is a 0.05sec long overslurred quite variable ‘KIT’, often uttered in long but mostly irregular series
– 1CY birds regularly utter begging calls during migration too, often in short fast series
– most calls are distinctly lower pitched than similar Arctic Tern calls

comparison species:
Little Tern (v)
Gull-billed Tern (v)
Whiskered Tern (v)
Roseate Tern (a) (v)
Arctic Tern (a) (v)
Sandwich Tern

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