Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii


Taxonomic note
The BirdLife Taxonomic Working Group is aware that phylogenetic analyses have been published which have proposed generic rearrangements which may affect this species, but prefers to wait until work by other taxonomists reveals how these changes affect the entire groups involved.

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: #

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 Near Threatened
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) 184,000,000 km2
Extent of Occurrence (non-breeding) 120,000,000 km2
Severely fragmented? no -
Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
Population size unknown poor estimated 2012
Population trend unknown - - -
Generation length 10.2 years - - -

Population justification: The global population is estimated to number c.200,000-220,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2015). The European population is estimated at 2,300-2,900 pairs, which equates to 4,500-5,800 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). National population estimates include: c.100-10,000 breeding pairs and c.50-1,000 individuals on migration in China; c.100-100,000 breeding pairs and c.50-10,000 individuals on migration in Taiwan and c.100-10,000 breeding pairs and c.50-1,000 individuals on migration in Japan (Brazil 2009).

Trend justification: The overall population trend is uncertain, as some populations are decreasing, while others are increasing or stable (Wetlands International 2015). The European population is estimated to be increasing (BirdLife International 2015).

Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Presence Origin Resident Breeding visitor Non-breeding visitor Passage migrant
Anguilla (to UK) extant native yes
Antigua and Barbuda extant native
Aruba (to Netherlands) extant native yes
Australia extant native yes
Austria extant vagrant
Bahamas extant native
Bahrain extant vagrant yes
Barbados extant vagrant
Belgium extant vagrant
Belize extant native
Benin extant vagrant
Bermuda (to UK) extant vagrant yes
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (to Netherlands) extant native yes
Brazil extant native yes
Brunei extant vagrant
Cambodia extant uncertain
Cameroon extant uncertain
Canada extant native yes
Cayman Islands (to UK) extant uncertain
China (mainland) extant native yes
Christmas Island (to Australia) extant uncertain
Colombia extant vagrant
Comoros extant uncertain
Côte d'Ivoire extant uncertain
Cuba extant native yes
Curaçao (to Netherlands) extant native yes
Denmark extant vagrant
Dominica extant native
Dominican Republic extant native yes yes
Egypt extant vagrant
Equatorial Guinea extant uncertain
Fiji extant uncertain
France extant native yes yes
French Guiana extant uncertain
French Southern Territories extant uncertain
Gambia extant vagrant
Germany extant vagrant
Ghana extant native
Gibraltar (to UK) extant vagrant
Grenada extant native
Guadeloupe (to France) extant native yes yes
Guatemala extant uncertain yes
Guinea extant uncertain
Guinea-Bissau extant uncertain
Guyana extant uncertain
Haiti extant native
India extant native yes
Indonesia extant native yes
Iran, Islamic Republic of extant uncertain
Ireland extant native yes yes
Israel extant vagrant
Jamaica extant native yes
Japan extant native
Kenya extant native yes
Liberia extant uncertain
Libya extant vagrant
Madagascar extant native yes
Malaysia extant uncertain
Malta extant vagrant
Martinique (to France) extant native yes
Mauritania extant native yes yes
Mauritius extant native yes
Mayotte (to France) extant uncertain
Mexico extant native
Micronesia, Federated States of extant uncertain
Montserrat (to UK) extant native
Mozambique extant uncertain
Myanmar extant vagrant
Nauru extant uncertain
Netherlands extant vagrant
New Caledonia (to France) extant native yes
Nigeria extant uncertain
Norfolk Island (to Australia) extant uncertain
Norway extant vagrant
Oman extant native yes
Pakistan extant uncertain
Palau extant uncertain
Panama extant uncertain
Papua New Guinea extant native yes
Philippines extant uncertain
Poland extant vagrant
Portugal extant native yes yes
Puerto Rico (to USA) extant native yes
Réunion (to France) extant uncertain
São Tomé e Príncipe extant uncertain
Saudi Arabia extant vagrant yes
Senegal extant vagrant yes
Seychelles extant native yes
Sierra Leone extant uncertain
Singapore extant vagrant yes
Sint Maarten (to Netherlands) extant native yes
Solomon Islands extant native yes
Somalia extant native yes
South Africa extant native yes
Spain extant native yes
Sri Lanka extant native yes
St Barthelemy (to France) extant native
St Kitts and Nevis extant native yes
St Lucia extant native yes
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 uncertain
Sweden extant vagrant
Switzerland extant vagrant
Taiwan, China extant native yes
Tanzania extant native yes
Thailand extant uncertain
Timor-Leste extant uncertain
Togo extant native yes
Trinidad and Tobago extant vagrant yes
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) extant native yes
United Arab Emirates extant vagrant yes
United Kingdom extant native yes
USA extant native yes
Vanuatu extant vagrant
Venezuela extant native yes
Vietnam extant vagrant
Virgin Islands (to UK) extant native yes
Virgin Islands (to USA) extant native yes
Yemen extant vagrant yes

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name
Portugal Ponta de São Lourenço
France Iles de la Colombière, de la Nellière et des Haches
France Baies de Morlaix et de Carantec
France Cap Gris-nez
Ghana Densu Delta Ramsar Site and vicinity
Ghana Songor Ramsar Site
Kenya Kisite island
Kenya Kiunga Marine National Reserve
Kenya Mida Creek, Whale Island and the Malindi - Watamu coast
Madagascar Cape Anorontany Archipelago NPA
Madagascar Tambohorano Wetland NPA
Madagascar Barren Islands MPA
Madagascar Nosy Manitse Future SAPM Marine and surrounding wetlands
Mauritius Cargados Carajos Shoals
Seychelles Aride Island Special Reserve
Seychelles Etoile island
Somalia Jasiira lagoon and Muqdisho islets
Tanzania Dar es Salaam coast
Tanzania Zanzibar Island-South Coast
South Africa Algoa Bay Islands: Addo Elephant National Park
Oman Bandar Jussah
Oman Barr al Hikman
Oman Masirah island
Oman Khawr Hassan
Oman Daymaniyat Islands
Taiwan, China Northeastern Sea Islets
Taiwan, China Matsu (Mazu) Islands Tern Refuge
Taiwan, China Southern Sea Islets
Taiwan, China Northern Sea Islets
China (mainland) Wuyu Dao Island
Japan Yaeyama islands
Japan Okinawa coastal islets
Brunei Brunei Bay
Portugal Porto Santo Oeste
Portugal Ilhéu de Baixo e Costa Adjacente
Portugal Ilhéu da Praia
Portugal Serra Branca
Portugal Furnas - Santo António
Portugal Costa das Flores
Portugal Costa do Corvo
Portugal Capelinhos
Portugal Ribeirinha
Portugal Ilhéu do Topo e Costa Adjacente
Portugal Contendas
Portugal Ilhéu da Vila
Portugal Ilhéu das Lagoínhas e Costa Adjacente
Portugal Ponta da Ilha e Terra Alta
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) Caicos Bank Southern Cays
Anguilla (to UK) Scrub Island
Virgin Islands (to UK) Green Cay
United Kingdom Farne Islands
Canada Country Island Complex
Oman Khawr ad Dahariz
Bahamas Cay Lobos
Bahamas Tee Cay, Goat Cay and Long Rocks
Bahamas North Atlantic Abaco Cays
Martinique (to France) Îlets Boiseau et Petit Piton
Martinique (to France) Pointe Pain de Sucre
Belize Belize Off-shore and Barrier Islands
Bahamas Cay Sal
Bahamas Guana Cays
Bahamas Great Inagua
Puerto Rico (to USA) Karso del Sur
United Kingdom Firth of Forth Islands
United Kingdom Larne Lough
United Kingdom North Norfolk Coast
United Kingdom Ynys Feurig, Cemlyn Bay and the Skerries
Puerto Rico (to USA) Suroeste
Puerto Rico (to USA) Caño Tiburones
St Lucia Point Sables
Bahamas Booby Island
Virgin Islands (to UK) Anegada: Western salt ponds and coastal areas
Aruba (to Netherlands) San Nicolas Bay Reef Islands
Virgin Islands (to USA) Saba Island and Cays
Australia Haul Round Island
Australia Higginson Island
Australia Islet off NE Grooyte Eylandt
Australia Sandy Island and Low Rock (Gulf of Carpentaria)
Australia Pearce, Urquhart and Hervey Islands (Sir Edward Pellew Group)
Australia Bountiful Islands
St Vincent and the Grenadines All Awash Island
St Vincent and the Grenadines Petit Canouan
United Kingdom Coquet Island
Australia Houtman Abrolhos
Australia Lacepede Islands
Australia Low Rocks and Sterna Island (Kimberley)
Australia Montebello Islands
Australia Sunday Island (Exmouth Gulf)
Australia Cape York to Cape Grenville Islands
Australia Swain Reefs
Ireland Lady's Island Lake
Ireland Rockabill
China (mainland) Zhongjieshan Islands
China (mainland) Jiushan Islands Nature Reserve
China (mainland) Taizhou Islands
China (mainland) Dongtou Islands
Spain Salmor rocky islets
Kenya Kisite island - Marine
Japan Yaeyama islands - Marine
Japan Okinawa coastal islets - Marine
India Burnt Island (Bandra) Vengurla Rocks
USA Great Gull Island
New Caledonia (to France) Îlot Goélands
New Caledonia (to France) Grand Lagon Nord Marin
New Caledonia (to France) Îlots de Poindimié Marin
New Caledonia (to France) Îlots de Poindimié
New Caledonia (to France) Îlots du lagon sud
New Caledonia (to France) Grand Lagon Sud Marin
Portugal Faial
Portugal Corvo e Flores
Portugal Pico - Norte
Portugal São Jorge - Oeste
Portugal São Jorge - Nordeste
Portugal Santa Maria
Portugal São Miguel - Sul
Portugal Terceira
Portugal Graciosa
France Jaudy et Sept-Iles
Japan Ariake Bay - Marine
Brazil Mangue Seco
Portugal Ilhéu das Cabras

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Marine Coastal/Supratidal Sea Cliffs and Rocky Offshore Islands major non-breeding
Marine Intertidal Salt Marshes (Emergent Grasses) marginal breeding
Marine Intertidal Sandy Shoreline and/or Beaches, Sand Bars, Spits, Etc major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Coral Reef - Back Slope suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Coral Reef - Back Slope suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Coral Reef - Foreslope (Outer Reef Slope) suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Coral Reef - Foreslope (Outer Reef Slope) suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Coral Reef - Inter-Reef Rubble Substrate suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Coral Reef - Inter-Reef Rubble Substrate suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Coral Reef - Inter-Reef Soft Substrate suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Coral Reef - Inter-Reef Soft Substrate suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Coral Reef - Lagoon suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Coral Reef - Lagoon suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Coral Reef - Outer Reef Channel suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Coral Reef - Outer Reef Channel suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Estuaries suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Estuaries suitable 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
Marine Oceanic Epipelagic (0-200m) suitable passage
Marine Oceanic Epipelagic (0-200m) suitable breeding
Marine Oceanic Mesopelagic (200-1000m) suitable passage
Marine Oceanic Mesopelagic (200-1000m) suitable breeding
Altitude 0 - 18 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
Species mortality
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
Species disturbance, Reduced reproductive success, Species mortality

Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Food - human - - non-trivial recent
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - international non-trivial recent
Sport hunting/specimen collecting - - non-trivial recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Sterna dougallii. Downloaded from on 11/12/2023.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 11/12/2023.