Royal Tern

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.

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Details & Statistics

Added to Birdorable
Hatched on 20 July 2007
Scientific Name
Thalasseus maximus
  • Charadriiformes
  • Sternidae
  • Thalasseus
  • T. maximus
Birdorable Family
Conservation Status
Least Concern (as of 21 March 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
18 to 19 inches


International Names

Brazilian (Português brasileiro) Trinta-réis-real
Chinese (汉语) 橙嘴凤头燕鸥
Czech (Cesky) Rybák Královský
Danish (Dansk) Kongeterne
Dutch (Nederlands) Koningsstern
Finnish (Suomi) Kuningastiira
French (Français) Sterne Royale
German (Deutsch) Königsseeschwalbe
Italian (Italiano) Sterna Reale
Japanese (日本語) アメリカオオアジサシ (Amerikaooajisashi)
Norwegian (Norsk) Kongeterne
Polish (Polski) Rybitwa królewska
Russian (русский язык) Королевская крачка
Spanish (Español) Charrán Real
Swedish (Svenska) Kungstärna
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Royal Tern Coloring Page

Royal Tern Coloring Page

The Royal Tern is a large species of tern found across parts of the New World as well as Africa and Europe. During breeding season they are recognized by their heavy orange-yellow ... more