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Royal Tern

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Rosy-faced Lovebird

About the Royal Tern

The Royal tern is second in size after the Caspian Tern (the world's largest tern).

Royal Terns breed on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the southern United States, Mexico and the Caribbean. The slightly smaller subspecies Thalasseus maximus albididorsalis breeds in coastal west Africa. American birds winter south to Peru and Argentina, and African breeders move both north and south from the breeding colonies. African birds may reach as far north as Spain.

Royal Terns have a long yellow bill, pale grey upperparts, white underparts, and black legs. In winter, the black cap becomes patchy.

Details & Stats

Hatched Added to Birdorable on: 20 July 2007
Scientific Name Thalasseus maximus
  • Charadriiformes
  • Sternidae
  • Thalasseus
  • T. maximus
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 16 July 2017)
Units: Imperial Metric
18 to 19 inches
Range West Europe West Africa Central Africa North America Central America Caribbean South America United States (West) United States (East)

International Names

  • Trinta-réis-real (Brazilian)
  • 橙嘴凤头燕鸥 (Chinese)
  • Rybák Královský (Czech)
  • Kongeterne (Danish)
  • Koningsstern (Dutch)
  • Kuningastiira (Finnish)
  • Sterne Royale (French)
  • Königsseeschwalbe (German)
  • Sterna Reale (Italian)
  • アメリカオオアジサシ (Amerikaooajisashi) (Japanese)
  • Kongeterne (Norwegian)
  • Rybitwa królewska (Polish)
  • Королевская крачка (Russian)
  • Charrán Real (Spanish)
  • Kungstärna (Swedish)