This seabird mainly breeds colonially in the Kerguelen Islands, as its common name implies. However, smaller colonies are also found in the Prince Edward Islands (i.e. Prince Edward and Marion) and Crozet Islands. The total number of individuals is from 3,500–6,500 birds, although there is no recent data from the main colony at Kerguelen. These birds do not inhabit Kerguelen proper, instead nesting on islets free of feral cats. During bad weather, they are known to abandon their colonies.
Kerguelen terns are among the least-ranging of all typical terns. They generally do not reach far into the seas near their breeding grounds.
- S. v. mercuri (Voisin, 1971) – Crozet and Prince Edward Islands
- S. v. virgata (Cabanis, 1875) – Kerguelen Island
- BirdLife International (2012). "Sterna virgata". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- "Coursers, noddies, gulls, terns, auks and sandgrouse". International Ornithological Congress. Retrieved 2015-01-12.
- Sterna virgata at Birdlife International accessed August 26, 2006
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