White-fronted tern

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White-fronted tern
Sterna striata -Bayswater, Auckland City, New Zealand -adults and nest-8.jpg
A pair and their nest at Bayswater, Auckland City, New Zealand
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Laridae
Genus: Sterna
S. striata
Binomial name
Sterna striata
Gmelin, 1789
SternaStriataIUCNver2018 2.png
Range of S. striata      Resident      Non-breeding

The white-fronted tern (Sterna striata) is a species of tern from New Zealand and Australia. It is the most common tern of New Zealand. It rarely swims, apart from bathing, despite having webbed feet. The species is protected.

White-fronted terns feed in large flocks by plunge diving on shoals of smelt and pilchards which have been driven to the surface by larger fish and are easily caught. Like all terns they fly with their heads and bills pointing down to see their prey.

Breeding is between October and January in large colonies on rocky cliffs and offshore islands. The species was long known to breed on islands in Bass Strait, north of Tasmania, but the colonies there were not discovered until 1979. Many of the birds winter in south-eastern Australia, especially juveniles.[2]


The white-fronted tern was described by Johann Friedrich Gmelin in 1789 as Sterna striata. The species is closely related to the Common tern (Sterna hirundo), Roseate tern (Sterna dougallii), Black-naped tern (Sterna sumatrana), South American tern (Sterna hirundinacea), Antarctic tern (Sterna vittata) and Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea).[3]



  1. ^ BirdLife International (2018). "Sterna striata". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2018.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  2. ^ Hutching, Gerard. "Gulls, terns and skuas – White-fronted, sooty, Antarctic and Arctic terns". Te Ara, The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  3. ^ Gochfeld, M; Burger, J; Garcia, E (2019). del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew; Sargatal, Jordi; Christie, David A; de Juana, Eduardo (eds.). "White-fronted Tern (Sterna striata)". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 2 March 2019.