Forster's Tern Sterna forsteri



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Photos from this Account

Breeding adult

Medium-sized tern with pointed wings and a long, forked tail. Breeding adults have a black cap and a black-tipped orange bill. Note white underparts and pale primaries.

Breeding adult

Short-legged tern with a long, forked tail that extends beyond the wings when resting. Breeding adults have a full black cap and a slender, black-tipped orange bill.

Nonbreeding adult

Nonbreeding adults have a black eyepatch, an unmarked nape, and a slender black bill.


Immature birds are pale gray above and do not have shoulder markings. They have a black eyepatch, pale gray primaries, and a black bill.


Juveniles are mottled rusty brown, white, and gray with a black eye patch.

Nonbreeding adult

In flight, note gray tail and pale gray primaries with black tips on nonbreeding adults.

Nonbreeding adult

Nonbreeding adults have a black mask and entirely white underparts. The wings are silvery from below with black tips on the primaries.


Breeds in marshes with open water and large stands of islandlike vegetation. Spends the winters in marshes, coastal beaches, lakes, and rivers.

Recommended Citation

Forster's Tern (Sterna forsteri), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: