This web page uses its own cookies and the third-party cookies to collect the information which help us make the service as good as possible. By no means is our intention to use it for gathering personal data.

More information Cookies policy

Gull-billed tern


Common name Gull-billed tern
Scientific name Gelochelidon nilotica
Type Waterbirds
Status Summer

Medium-sized bird (approx 43 cm or 17 in), pale appearance, long wings, short and forked tail. Grey dorsal plumage, white in the ventral area, head with black cap that covers nape and neck. Short, black bill. Relatively long, black legs. Similar to a Common Tern. It is distinguishable by a different hunting behaviour, the bill and its presence in indoor habitats.


Wetlands and cultivated areas

Where it lives

The Gull-Billed Tern prefers inland waters although it is also present in coastal areas. To nest, it uses sandy islets of lagoons and reservoirs, marshes and salt flats. With regards to feeding this bird benefits from crops, olive groves, pastures, flooded areas and inland dry environments.

How it lives

Summer species present in Malaga during the breeding period. It breeds in colonies at the end of April and makes an annual laying of 2 eggs. Nest on the ground. This tern feeds on insects, both terrestrial and flying, which hunts in flight at ground level. It also captures amphibians, fish, crustaceans and even micromammals or small birds.

Where it can be seen in Malaga

It is a common species in the Fuente de Piedra Lagoon. In the Great Path it can be observed in stages 16 and 18.

Curious facts

Gull-billed terns have a bill adapted to a very special feeding and different from that of the common terns. They do not make nose divings or dive into the water. They fly low, almost at ground level, and with a short and robust bill they catch in flight the insects next to the ground. They are tireless flyers at ground level.

Similar birds
Wintering Summer Resident Migration