Forster's Tern

Sterna forsteri (Nuttall, 1834) FO FORTE 6180
Family: Charadriiformes > Laridae

Similar to Common Tern, but with a pale orange bill, Forster's Tern is a rare visitor from North America, with most records coming from around the Irish Sea during the winter months.

In some areas, the floating nests of Forster's Terns face an unusual hazard – spawning carp can work up such a frenzy that they sometimes dislodge eggs from the terns' nests.

Select a topic for more facts and statistics about the Forster's Tern

  • Breeding
  • Winter
1.2k records observations recorded by BTO surveyors
1.2k records



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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.


We have no population estimates for this scarce species.


This species is a rare vagrant and was recorded during Bird Atlas 2007–11 as shown on the map.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK


This vagrant is too rarely reported to map distribution change.


Forster's Tern is a rare vagrant, recorded sporadically but most often in winter, and often involving returning individuals.

Weekly occurence of Forster's Tern from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.


Lifecycle and body size information about Forster's Tern, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.


Sample sizes are too small to report Productivity and Nesting statistics for this species.


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Welsh: Môr-wennol Forster
Catalan: xatrac de Forster
Czech: rybák Forsteruv
Danish: Prærie-terne
Dutch: Forsters Stern
Estonian: sootiir
Finnish: hopeatiira
French: Sterne de Forster
German: Forsterseeschwalbe
Hungarian: tavi csér
Icelandic: Tálþerna
Irish: Geabhróg Forster
Italian: Sterna di Forster
Latvian: Forstera zirinš
Lithuanian: Forsterio žuvedra
Norwegian: Prærieterne
Polish: rybitwa czarnoucha
Portuguese: gaivina-de-forster
Slovak: rybár mociarny
Slovenian: ameriška recna cigra
Spanish: Charrán de Forster
Swedish: kärrtärna

Links to more information from

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