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Common name Arctic tern
Scientific name Sterna paradisea
Type Seabirds
Status Migrator

Medium-sized seabird (about 36 cm or 14 in), very similar to the Common Tern. Dark grey upperparts and wings and white underparts. Black cap on the nape. Fully red legs and bill (without dark tip). In winter the bill is black and the cap is considerably reduced to the rear end of the head. When perched, it can be observed that the tail slightly exceeds the wings tip in length.


Marine environment

Where it lives

Species linked to the coast. Preference for pelagic waters during its migratory flights and for coastal wetlands or beaches during its breeding season.

How it lives

Bird considered a rarity in the province, present during its migratory passages in an exceptional way. The Arctic Tern breeds in the Arctic and spends the winter in Antarctica. It nests on the ground, in small colonies. One annual laying of 3 to 5 eggs from May. This seabird spends more time in the open sea than other terns. It feeds on fishes and small marine crustaceans that it captures in the usual way of terns, with flights, plunges and dives.

Where it can be seen in Malaga

Very rare and little frequent species in the province. It makes its migrations across the Atlantic and hardly gets close to the Mediterranean coast. There are some isolated observations during the autumnal passage in the westernmost part of the coast of Malaga, generally associated with gales coming from the west.

Curious facts

The Arctic Tern is the animal that travels the longest distance in the world every year. Its migratory passages take it to visit the two polar ice caps, so it gets to travel up to 70,000 km a year (nearly 45,000 mi). For this reason, a large part of its biological cycle takes place in the journeys between its breeding and wintering sites.

Similar birds
Wintering Summer Resident Migration