Roseate Tern (Sterna Dougallii)

The Roseate Tern (Sterna Dougallii) is similar in size to the Common Tern, but is whiter looking, with a pink tint on its body features from the start of the breeding season.

The Roseate Tern is a migratory bird. It breeds across a vast area, with colonies from Canada to Venezuela, around the European coast from the UK and Ireland to Spain, South Africa and east coast of Africa, the Indian Ocean, Japan and the south-west Pacific.

During the breeding season the Roseate Tern lives in large colonies, often mixed in with other species of tern.

In winter the Roseate Tern moves to more tropical seas, with populations on the north coast of Brazil, western Africa, southern Africa (with a gap along the south-western coast), a large area around Madagascar and another that stretches from Malaysia to Australia taking in the islands of Indonesia, New Guinea and surrounding areas.

The Roseate Tern is a plunge feeder, diving into the sea from a greater height than other species of Tern. In the air it can look like a kestrel, hovering with shallower wing-beats than the Common Tern. It eats small fish.

The Roseate Tern is endangered in some areas, with around 100 breeding pairs in the UK and 700 in Ireland, but more secure elsewhere, in particular in the Indian Ocean.

The Roseate Tern is about the same size as the Common Tern, but is whiter looking. It gets its name from a soft-pink tint on its breast that fades during the breeding season. Adult birds have a black top to the head, while juveniles have a white patch above the eyes. It has a longer tail than other terns. The wings are grey on top, with dark 'wedge' towards the tips, and pale underneath. The Roseate Tern has an all-black bill, with a red base for part of the year.

Both parents help dig a shallow crape in the shelter of a rock or some vegetation. The female lays one or two chestnut-marked buff or cream eggs in June or July. Both parents incubate the eggs, with the female spending more time on the nest than the male. The eggs hatch after 21-26 days. The young stay close to the nest for the first twenty days, then begin to explore the wider colony. They are flying after thirty days, but are still fed by their parents for up to eight weeks.

The Roseate Tern normally breeds on small islands near the coast, feeding within a few miles of the colony. Outside the breeding season it can be found in tropical coastal waters.

Order: Charadriiformes (Gulls, terns, plovers etc)
Family: Sternidae
Genus: Sterna
Species: Dougallii

Range (UK)
The Roseate Tern can be found in colonies scattered around Britain and Ireland. They can be found around the northern half of the Irish coast, the north-west corner of Wales, north Norfolk, the Scottish-English border around Berwick, on the Scilly Islands. UK birds mainly over-winter around Ghana. A good population can be found on the RSPB reserve at Coquet Island off the coast of Northumberland.

Physical Details
Length: 33-41cm
Weight: 95-130g
Lifespan: One ringed bird has survived to 23