White tern

White Tern


The white tern (Gygis alba) is a small seabird found across the tropical oceans of the world. It is sometimes known as the fairy tern although this name is potentially confusing as it is the common name of the fairy tern Sternula nereis. Other names for the species include angel tern and white noddy.


The white tern has 3–4 subspecies: the nominate race G. a. alba, G. a. leucopes, the Pacific white tern (G. a. candida). Additionally, the little white tern (G. microrhyncha) was long and often is still included herein as a subspecies G. a. microrhyncha.[1]

Related to the noddies, the White Tern is small with white plumage and a long black bill.[2] With a wingspan of about 25 inches (640 mm), it ranges widely across the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and also nests in some Atlantic islands. Nesting on coral islands, usually on trees with small branches but also on rocky ledges and on man-made structures, the White Tern feeds on small fish which it catches by plunge diving.