Least Tern Sternula antillarum


Taxonomic note
Sternula antillarum (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) was previously placed in the genus Sterna.

Taxonomic source(s)
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: #

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
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 -

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence (breeding/resident) 18,200,000 km2 medium
Extent of Occurrence (non-breeding) 9,890,000 km2 medium
Severely fragmented? no -
Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
Population size unknown poor estimated 2009
Population trend decreasing - suspected -
Generation length 11.7 years - - -

Trend justification: The overall population trend is decreasing, although some populations are increasing or have unknown trends (Delany and Scott 2006). In North America, this species has undergone a small or statistically insignificant decrease over the last 40 years (data from Breeding Bird Survey and/or Christmas Bird Count: Butcher and Niven 2007).

Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Presence Origin Resident Breeding visitor Non-breeding visitor Passage migrant
Anguilla (to UK) extant native
Antigua and Barbuda extant native
Argentina extant native
Aruba (to Netherlands) extant native
Bahamas extant native
Barbados extant native
Belize extant native
Bermuda (to UK) extant vagrant yes
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (to Netherlands) extant native yes
Brazil extant native
Canada extant native
Cayman Islands (to UK) extant native
Colombia extant native
Costa Rica extant native yes
Cuba extant native
Curaçao (to Netherlands) extant native yes
Dominica extant native
Dominican Republic extant native
Ecuador extant vagrant
El Salvador extant native
French Guiana extant native
Grenada extant vagrant
Guadeloupe (to France) extant native yes
Guatemala extant native
Guyana extant native
Haiti extant native
Honduras extant native
Jamaica extant native yes
Martinique (to France) extant native
Mexico extant native
Montserrat (to UK) extant native
Nicaragua extant uncertain
Panama extant native
Peru extant native
Puerto Rico (to USA) extant native yes
Sint Maarten (to Netherlands) extant native yes
St Kitts and Nevis extant native
St Lucia extant native
St Martin (to France) extant native yes
St Pierre and Miquelon (to France) extant vagrant yes
St Vincent and the Grenadines extant native
Suriname extant native
Trinidad and Tobago extant native
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) extant native yes
USA extant native yes
Venezuela extant native
Virgin Islands (to UK) extant native yes
Virgin Islands (to USA) extant native yes

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name
Jamaica Yallahs
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) Fish Ponds and Crossing Place Trail, Middle Caicos
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) North, Middle and East Caicos Ramsar Site
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) East Caicos and adjacent areas
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) Grand Turk Salinas and Shores
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) Salt Cay Creek and Salinas
Bahamas Grog Pond
St Kitts and Nevis Ponds of the Southeast Peninsula
St Martin (to France) Grand Etang
Bahamas Sandy Point
Bahamas Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park
Puerto Rico (to USA) Salinas de Punta Cucharas
Bahamas North Atlantic Abaco Cays
Bahamas Low Cay, High Cay and Sandy Hook
Bahamas Cay Lobos
Bahamas Booby Island
Bahamas Guana Cays
Guadeloupe (to France) Pointe des Châteaux
Virgin Islands (to UK) Anegada: Western salt ponds and coastal areas
Guadeloupe (to France) îlets de la Petite-Terre
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (to Netherlands) Klein Bonaire, Bonaire
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (to Netherlands) Pelkermeer Saltworks, Bonaire
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (to Netherlands) Washikemba - Fontein - Onima, Bonaire
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (to Netherlands) Washington-Slagbaai National Park, Bonaire
Antigua and Barbuda McKinnons Salt Pond
Antigua and Barbuda Valley Church Bay
Antigua and Barbuda Offshore Islands
Cuba Delta del Cauto
Cuba Cayería Centro - Oriental de Villa Clara
Cuba Cayo Sabinal, Ballenatos y Manglares de la Bahía de Nuevitas
Bahamas Cat Island Wetlands
Curaçao (to Netherlands) Klein Curaçao, Curaçao
Dominican Republic Jaragua National Park
Anguilla (to UK) Scrub Island
Virgin Islands (to USA) Great Pond
Virgin Islands (to USA) Southgate and Green Cay
Anguilla (to UK) Cove Pond
Anguilla (to UK) Prickly Pear (East and West)
Aruba (to Netherlands) San Nicolas Bay Reef Islands
Cayman Islands (to UK) Central Mangrove Wetland
Cayman Islands (to UK) Crown Wetlands
Curaçao (to Netherlands) North-east Curaçao parks and coast, Curaçao
Curaçao (to Netherlands) Jan Thiel Lagoon, Curaçao
Jamaica Black River Great Morass
Jamaica Font Hill
French Guiana Amana
French Guiana Littoral
French Guiana Littoral Sinnamary
French Guiana Littoral Kourou
French Guiana Littoral Macouria
French Guiana Ile de Cayenne
French Guiana Plaine Kaw et Pointe Béhague
USA Camp Pendleton
USA Mission Bay - San Diego River Estuary
USA Orange Coast Wetlands
USA San Diego Bay - South
USA Barrier Island/Lagoon System
French Guiana Amana - Marine
French Guiana Littoral Iracoubo - Marine
French Guiana Littoral Kourou - Marine
French Guiana Connétable - Marine
USA Accabonac Harbor
USA North San Diego Lagoons
Anguilla (to UK) Cauls Pond
Anguilla (to UK) Meads Bay Pond
Anguilla (to UK) Rendezvous Bay Pond
Anguilla (to UK) Grey Pond
Anguilla (to UK) Long Salt Pond
Anguilla (to UK) Road Salt Pond
Mexico Estero Cardonal
Mexico Isla Contoy
Mexico Ría Lagartos
Mexico Bahía de Ceuta - Cospita
Mexico Laguna Madre
Mexico Ensenada de la Paz
Mexico Complejo Lagunar Ojo de Liebre
Mexico Área de San Quintín
Mexico Bahía Todos Santos
Mexico Bahía e Islas de San Jorge
Mexico Laguna de Tamiahua

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Marine Intertidal Salt Marshes (Emergent Grasses) suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp major breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic marginal resident
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
Altitude   Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact
Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Climate change & severe weather Habitat shifting & alteration Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Unknown Unknown
Ecosystem degradation, Reduced reproductive success
Human intrusions & disturbance Recreational activities Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Species disturbance, Reduced reproductive success
Residential & commercial development Housing & urban areas Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Sternula antillarum. Downloaded from on 27/02/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/02/2024.