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Gull-billed Tern


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About the Gull-billed Tern

The Gull-billed Tern breeds in Southern Europe, a very small isolated population in northern Germany and Denmark, temperate and eastern Asia, both coasts of North America, eastern South America and Australia. There are several geographical races of this bird, differing mainly in size and minor plumage details.

The Gull-billed Tern has the appearance of a 'white' (Sterna) tern, but the feeding habits of a Chlidonias marsh tern, like the Black Tern and White-winged Tern.It used to be grouped in the genus Sterna but is now placed on its own in the genus Gelochelidon.

The Gull-billed Tern is a fairly large tern, similar in size and appearance to a Sandwich Terns, but the short thick gull-like bill, broad wings, long legs and robust body set it apart.

Juvenile Sandwich Terns have a cute short bill, and are frequently mistaken for Gull-billed Tern where the latter species is uncommon, such as North Sea coasts.

Details & Stats

Hatched Added to Birdorable on: 20 July 2007
Scientific Name Gelochelidon nilotica
  • Charadriiformes
  • Sternidae
  • Gelochelidon
  • G. nilotica
Birdorable Family Terns & Gulls
Conservation Status Least Concern
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Near Threatened (NT)
  • Vulnerable (VU)
  • Endangered (EN)
  • Critically Endangered (CR)
  • Extinct in the Wild (EW)
  • Extinct (EX)
Source: IUCN Red List
(as of 27 September 2017)
Units: Imperial Metric
13 to 15 inches
Range West Europe East Europe North Europe South Europe West Asia Central Asia East Asia Southeast Asia South Asia North Africa West Africa Central Africa East Africa South Africa North America Central America Caribbean South America United States (West) United States (East) Australia and New Zealand Oceania

International Names

  • Trinta-réis-de-bico-preto (Brazilian)
  • 鸥嘴噪鸥 (Chinese)
  • Rybák černozobý (Czech)
  • Sandterne (Danish)
  • Lachstern (Dutch)
  • Hietatiira (Finnish)
  • Sterne Hansel (French)
  • Lachseeschwalbe (German)
  • Sterna Zampenere (Italian)
  • ハシブトアジサシ (Hashibutoajisashi) (Japanese)
  • 큰부리제비갈매기 (Korean)
  • Sandterne (Norwegian)
  • Rybitwa krótkodzioba (Polish)
  • Крячок мартиноносий (Russian)
  • Pagaza Piconegra (Spanish)
  • Sandtärna (Swedish)

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T-Shirt Tuesday: Know Your Terns

T-Shirt Tuesday: Know Your Terns

This week's highlighted t-shirt is our Know Your Terns! design featuring nine different Birdorable terns: Caspian Tern; Royal Tern; Sandwich Tern; Common Tern; Arctic Tern; Least Tern; Gull-billed Tern; Black Tern; and Sooty ... more