Gull-billed Tern

Gelochelidon nilotica (JF Gmelin, 1789) TG GUBTE 6050
Family: Charadriiformes > Laridae

Gull-billed Tern, Philip Croft

A medium-sized tern with a short, stout and all black bill. Gull-billed Tern is a scarce but annual spring visitor from southern Europe; some individuals stay a while and the species has attempted to breed here.

Select a topic for more facts and statistics about the Gull-billed Tern

  • Breeding
  • Winter
1.3k records observations recorded by BTO surveyors
1.3k 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.

Gull-billed Tern breeding distribution 2008-11
Britain and Ireland Breeding Distribution 2008-2011.
More from the Atlas Mapstore.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2


Gull-billed Tern is a rare vagrant, mostly recorded in summer, though sometimes in autumn.

Weekly occurence of Gull-billed 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 Gull-billed 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.


Sample sizes are too small to report Biometrics for this species.

Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


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

Welsh: Môr-wennol Ylfinbraff
Catalan: curroc
Czech: rybák cernozobý
Danish: Sandterne
Dutch: Lachstern
Estonian: naerutiir
Finnish: hietatiira
French: Sterne hansel
German: Lachseeschwalbe
Hungarian: kacagócsér
Icelandic: Sandþerna
Irish: Geabhróg Ghobdhubh
Italian: Sterna zampenere
Latvian: kapu zirinš
Lithuanian: kirasnape žuvedra
Norwegian: Sandterne
Polish: rybitwa krótkodzioba
Portuguese: trinta-réis-de-bico-preto / tagaz
Slovak: rybárka krátkozobá
Slovenian: crnonoga cigra
Spanish: Pagaza piconegra
Swedish: sandtärna

Links to more information from

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