Top 10 facts about Arctic Terns

The Arctic tern is known as a long-distance migrant.

It is renown for its phenomenal annual round-trip from the Arctic or northern temperate breeding ground to the Antarctic where it will winter This migration gives the Arctic Tern the notoriety of having the longest known migration of any bird By travelling South in winter, the Arctic tern sees more sunlight each year than any other animal because they experience two summers in a year. Terns have quite a similarity to that of the Common Tern.

Its proper scientific name is Sterna hirundo. The Arctic Tern and the Common Tern have a similar appearance to the common Tern. In fact, birdstreamers will call unidentified terns ‘commic terns’, which is a combination of the two names. The way to tell Arctic terns and Common Terns apart are that Arctic Terns are slightly smaller than common terns. They also shorter bills and their taeakhabaar are longer.

Arctic Terns have a white rump and darker underparts. Their wings don’t have a dark wedge on the outer edge as the Common Terns do. In summer, the bill of an Arctic Tern turns bright red and doesn’t have the black tip which is often seen in common terns. Arctic Terns also develop long tail streamers in summer.

Arctic Terns produce calls that sound like a ‘kee-arr’ alarm call and a piping ‘pi-pi-pi-pi-pi’. Arctic Terns have a wingspan of between 66-77 cm in length, including its tail streamers. They weigh in at between 95-120g.

The Arctic tern is classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List (1). It is included in the Birds of Conservation Concern Amber List (medium conservation concern).

The Arctic Tern will rarely fly when it is moulting its wing feathers in wintertime. Instead, it will spend its time resting on small blocks of ice on the edge of the ice pack. It has the ability to moult very quickly which affect its flight abilities for some time.

The Arctic Tern has been known to live up to 34 years old. It will begin to breed at 3-4 years old. Arctic Terns are known to return to the area where they were hatched, and quite often they will even return to the same colony.

Downy Arctic Tern hatchlings are known to come in one of two colours which are either grey or brown. However, chicks that come from the same brood have been known to be different colours. Arctic Terns tend to feed on small fish, crustaceans, and insects.

They build their nests in gravel or grass, or on a platform of vegetation or debris. They will often place their nests on open ground. Arctic Terns have the ability to plunge into the water from the flight. Before they do this they may hover briefly before plunging.

The nesting Clutch Size of an Arctic Tern is between 1–3 eggs which will be an Olive to buff colour and marked with numerous small spots and blotches of dark brown, often concentrated around the larger end. When they are born Arctic tern chicks will be Downy, eyes open, able to walk but will stay in their nest. The French for Arctic Tern is Sterne arctique and the Spanish are Charrán ártico.