Gull-billed Tern

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.

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Details & Statistics

Added to Birdorable
Hatched on 20 July 2007
Scientific Name
Gelochelidon nilotica
  • Charadriiformes
  • Sternidae
  • Gelochelidon
  • G. nilotica
Birdorable Family
Conservation Status
Least Concern (as of 5 April 2020)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Near Threatened (NT)
  • Vulnerable (VU)
  • Endangered (EN)
  • Critically Endangered (CR)
  • Extinct in the Wild (EW)
  • Extinct (EX)
Source: IUCN Red List
Units: Imperial / Metric
13 to 15 inches


International Names

Brazilian (Português brasileiro) Trinta-réis-de-bico-preto
Chinese (汉语) 鸥嘴噪鸥
Czech (Cesky) Rybák černozobý
Danish (Dansk) Sandterne
Dutch (Nederlands) Lachstern
Finnish (Suomi) Hietatiira
French (Français) Sterne Hansel
German (Deutsch) Lachseeschwalbe
Italian (Italiano) Sterna Zampenere
Japanese (日本語) ハシブトアジサシ (Hashibutoajisashi)
Korean (한국어) 큰부리제비갈매기
Norwegian (Norsk) Sandterne
Polish (Polski) Rybitwa krótkodzioba
Russian (русский язык) Крячок мартиноносий
Spanish (Español) Pagaza Piconegra
Swedish (Svenska) Sandtärna
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