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Least Tern

Lesser Black-backed Gull
Least Bittern

Previous bird

Least Bittern

  • Ixobrychus exilis
  • Egrets & Other Waders

About the Least Tern

Also known as: Brown's Tern, Little Tern

The Least Tern is a small species of tern that lives in the Americas. Most breed in parts of North America; they are migratory and spend the winter in southern North America, Central America, and northern South America.

Least Terns eat a diet of mostly fish. They hunt by hovering on the wing until prey is found. They plunge into the water to capture prey items.

The population trend for the Least Tern is decreasing, but because of its widespread range the conservation status is Least Concern as of June 2013. In the United States, the Least Tern is listed as threatened or otherwise a species of concern in most states, primarily due to loss of breeding habitat.

Details & Stats

Hatched Added to Birdorable on: 02 July 2013
Scientific Name Sternula antillarum
  • Charadriiformes
  • Sternidae
  • Sternula
  • S. antillarum
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
8.3 to 9.1 inches
18.9 to 20.9 inches
1.1 to 1.6 ounces

International Names

  • Trinta-réis-miúdo (Brazilian)
  • 小白额燕鸥 (Chinese)
  • rybák nejmenší (Czech)
  • Lille Terne (Danish)
  • Amerikaanse Dwergstern (Dutch)
  • amerikanpikkutiira (Finnish)
  • Petite Sterne (French)
  • Amerikanische Zwergseeschwalbe (German)
  • Fraticello americano (Italian)
  • アメリカコアジサシ [amerikakoajisashi] (Japanese)
  • 쇠제비갈매기 (Korean)
  • Amerikadvergterne (Norwegian)
  • rybitwa mala (Polish)
  • Калифорнийская крачка (Russian)
  • Charrancito Americano (Spanish)
  • Amerikansk småtärna (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