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Birding Málaga


Common name Sandwich tern
Scientific name Thalasseus sandvicensis
Type Waterbirds
Status Wintering

Medium-sized bird (approx 41 cm or 16 in) with pale grey upperparts and white underparts. Long, pointed bill of black colour with a whitish or yellowish tip. Black legs. It has a black cap on its head that sometimes forms a small crest. In winter the cap is reduced to the nape of the neck and becomes whiter. In flight there is a white silhouette with long, pointed wings, with a long and forked tail.


Marine environment

Where it lives

Coastal areas of warm waters. To breed, it forms colonies in beach, dune or marsh areas with close access to the coast.

How it lives

Wintering species in Malaga that can also be observed in migratory passage. It breeds in large colonies in northern Europe. Nests on the ground. One annual laying from April of 1 to 2 eggs. It feeds mainly on fish, also capturing shrimp, crustaceans, snails, worms, and small insects on dry land. It is an unerring fisherman with a similar technique to gannets. It plunges, even when the sea is steep, reaching up to 15 meters diving if necessary.

Where it can be seen in Malaga

It can be watched along the entire coast of Malaga, entering the lagoons of the mouth of the Guadalhorce and Vélez rivers.

Curious facts

Terns are popularly known as "sea swallows". Their stylized silhouette and forked tail, along with their frequent plunge dives, are typical of many ports and beaches in Malaga in winter.

Similar birds
Wintering Summer Resident Migration