Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea


Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Christidis, L. and Boles, W.E. 2008. Systematics and Taxonomy of Australian Birds. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
Cramp, S. and Simmons, K.E.L. (eds). 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.
SACC. 2005 and updates. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #
Turbott, E.G. 1990. Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand. Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Wellington.

IUCN Red list criteria met and history
Red List criteria met
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable
- - -

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2018 Least Concern
2016 Least Concern
2012 Least Concern
2010 Least Concern
2009 Least Concern
2008 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern
Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency Does not normally occur in forest
Land mass type Average mass -
Extent of occurrence (EOO)

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 64,800,000
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 126,000,000
Number of locations -
Fragmentation -
Population and trend
Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals poor estimated 2012
Population trend Decreasing suspected -
Decline (3 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (5 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation future) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation past and future) - - -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Largest subpopulations - - -
Generation length (yrs) 13.4 - - -

Population justification: The global population is estimated to number >2,000,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2015). The European population is estimated at 564,000-906,000 pairs, which equates to 1,130,000-1,810,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). The population in Russia has been estimated at c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration (Brazil 2009).

Trend justification: The overall population trend is decreasing (Wetlands International 2015). In Europe, the population size is estimated to be decreasing by less than 25% in 40.2 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015).

Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Resident Breeding Non-breeding Passage
Algeria V Extant
Angola N Extant
Antarctica N Extant Yes
Argentina N Extant
Australia N Extant
Austria N Extant Yes
Belarus V Extant
Belgium N Extant Yes
Benin N Extant
Bermuda (to UK) N Extant
Bolivia N Extant
Bouvet Island (to Norway) U Extant
Brazil N Extant
British Indian Ocean Territory N Extant
Bulgaria V Extant
Cameroon N Extant
Canada N Extant Yes Yes
Cape Verde N Extant
Central African Republic V Extant
Chile N Extant
Colombia N Extant
Congo N Extant
Congo, The Democratic Republic of the V Extant
Costa Rica N Extant Yes
Côte d'Ivoire N Extant
Croatia V Extant
Cuba N Extant
Cyprus V Extant
Czech Republic V Extant
Denmark N Extant Yes Yes
Ecuador N Extant
Egypt V Extant
Equatorial Guinea N Extant
Estonia N Extant Yes
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) N Extant
Faroe Islands (to Denmark) N Extant Yes
Finland N Extant Yes Yes
France N Extant Yes Yes
French Southern Territories V Extant
Gabon N Extant
Gambia N Extant
Germany N Extant Yes Yes
Ghana N Extant
Gibraltar (to UK) V Extant
Greece N Extant
Greenland (to Denmark) N Extant Yes
Guadeloupe (to France) V Extant Yes
Guatemala U Extant
Guinea N Extant
Guinea-Bissau N Extant
Heard Island and McDonald Islands (to Australia) U Extant
Hungary V Extant
Iceland N Extant Yes
India V Extant
Indonesia V Extant
Ireland N Extant Yes Yes
Israel V Extant
Italy V Extant
Japan N Extant
Jordan V Extant
Kuwait V Extant Yes
Latvia N Extant Yes
Lesotho V Extant
Liberia N Extant
Libya V Extant
Lithuania N Extant Yes
Luxembourg V Extant
Marshall Islands V Extant
Mauritania N Extant
Mexico N Extant
Montenegro V Extant
Morocco N Extant
Mozambique V Extant
Namibia N Extant
Netherlands N Extant Yes
New Zealand N Extant
Nigeria N Extant
Norway N Extant Yes
Oman V Extant Yes
Panama V Extant Yes
Paraguay N Extant
Peru N Extant
Poland N Extant Yes Yes
Portugal N Extant
Puerto Rico (to USA) N Extant
Russia N Extant Yes
Russia (Asian) N Extant Yes
Russia (Central Asian) N Extant Yes
Russia (European) N Extant Yes
Senegal V Extant
Serbia V Extant
Sierra Leone N Extant
Slovakia V Extant
Somalia N Extant
South Africa N Extant
South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands N Extant
Spain N Extant Yes
St Helena (to UK) V Extant
St Pierre and Miquelon (to France) N Extant Yes Yes
Sudan V Extant Yes
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) N Extant Yes
Sweden N Extant Yes Yes
Switzerland V Extant
Togo N Extant
Turkey V Extant
Ukraine V Extant
United Arab Emirates V Extant Yes
United Kingdom N Extant Yes
Uruguay V Extant
USA N Extant Yes
Virgin Islands (to USA) V Extant

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name
Denmark Islands and coast between Skælskør Fjord and Glænø
Denmark Roskilde Fjord, Selsø and Kattinge Søerne
Denmark South Læsø
Denmark Sydfynske Ø-hav
Estonia Kahtla-Kübassaare
Estonia Kolga bay
Estonia Lahemaa
Estonia Pärnu bay (NEW)
Estonia Siiksaare-Oessaare bays
Estonia Väinameri
Estonia Vaindloo island
Finland Itäinen Suomenlahti National Park
Finland Merenkurkku archipelago
Finland Rauma and Luvia archipelagos
France Cap Gris-nez
Germany Altmühl valley between Treuchtlingen and Leutershausen with Altmühlsee
Germany Elbe marshes between Stade and Otterndorf
Germany Heerter See
Germany Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park
Germany Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park (includes the Halligs, Kniepsand/Amrum, Lister Koog, Rantumbecken, Rickelsb
Germany Wagbach lowlands
Germany Wismar bay and Salzhaff
Greenland (to Denmark) Kitsissunnguit (Grønne Ejland)
Iceland Hrísey
Ireland Aran Islands (parts)
Ireland Connemara Islands
Ireland Inishkeeragh and Illancrone
Ireland Lady's Island Lake
Ireland Magharee Islands, Mucklaghmore and Illaunbarnagh
Latvia Randu meadows
Netherlands Griend
Netherlands Lauwersmeer
Netherlands Rottumeroog
Netherlands Rottumerplaat
Netherlands Texel: Schorren and Zeeburg
Norway Altaelvmunningen
Norway Froan
Russia (Central Asian) Basins of the Schuchya and Khadytayakha rivers
Russia (Central Asian) Lower Yuribey
Russia (Central Asian) Upper and Middle Yuribey
Russia (Central Asian) Valley of headwaters of the river Schuchya
Russia (European) Onega Bay of the White Sea
Russia (European) Solovetski Archipelago and Zjizjginski island
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Bjørnøya (Bear Island)
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Midterhuken & Eholmen
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Northeast Svalbard Nature Reserve
Sweden Archipelago of Nothern Hälsingland
Sweden Archipelago of Stockholm
Sweden Holmöarna Archipelago
United Kingdom Copeland Islands
United Kingdom Coquet Island
United Kingdom Fair Isle
United Kingdom Farne Islands
United Kingdom Foula
United Kingdom Northumbria Coast
United Kingdom Papa Stour
United Kingdom Papa Westray (North Hill and Holm)
United Kingdom Rousay
United Kingdom Sleibhtean Agus Chladach Thiriodh
United Kingdom Solent Marshes and Southampton Water
United Kingdom Strangford Lough and islands
United Kingdom Uists Machairs, Lochs and Coast
United Kingdom West Westray
United Kingdom Ynys Feurig, Cemlyn Bay and the Skerries
USA Barrow Canyon & Smith Bay
USA Beaufort Sea Nearshore
USA Chukchi Sea Nearshore
USA Prince William Sound

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Grassland Tundra suitable breeding
Marine Coastal/Supratidal Coastal Brackish/Saline Lagoons/Marine Lakes suitable breeding
Marine Intertidal Sandy Shoreline and/or Beaches, Sand Bars, Spits, Etc suitable breeding
Marine Intertidal Shingle and/or Pebble Shoreline and/or Beaches major breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp major breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) major breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel major breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs major breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy major breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud major breeding
Wetlands (inland) Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands suitable breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha) suitable breeding
Wetlands (inland) Tundra Wetlands (incl. pools and temporary waters from snowmelt) suitable breeding
Altitude 0 - 100 m Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact
Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Biological resource use Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest] Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Unknown Unknown
Indirect ecosystem effects, Reduced reproductive success
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals - Intentional use (species is the target) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Reduced reproductive success, Species mortality
Climate change & severe weather Habitat shifting & alteration Timing Scope Severity Impact
Future Majority (50-90%) Unknown Unknown
Indirect ecosystem effects, Ecosystem degradation, Reduced reproductive success
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - Neovison vison Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Rapid Declines Medium Impact: 6
Reduced reproductive success, Species mortality

Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Pets Whole Adults and juveniles Wild International Non-trivial Recent
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - International Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Sterna paradisaea. Downloaded from on 21/08/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/08/2019.