• Roseate Tern 


Scientific name
Sterna dougallii (Montagu, 1813)

Red Data Book Status


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  • Identification

Similar in size to a common tern but the tail-streamers are longer and the black beak has a reddish base. The breeders have a rosy tinge on the breast which gives them their common name. 

  • Voice

A sound like 'chew-ik' and a raucous 'kraak.

  • Ecology

Breeding season is between April and August. Breed in coastal areas and in small islets where it lay between one and three eggs. The juveniles get the maturity at three years of age. The diet consists on small pelagic fish, insects and marine invertebrates.

  • Distribution

In Madeira archipelago the bird has been recorded in Selvagens and Porto Santo islands. In Madeira Island the species there are breeding in Funchal harbor and Ponta de São Lourenço. But in 2013 species has been recorded breeding at the eastern part of Funchal and in the north side of the island, more precisely in São Vicente. 



That Roseate Terns can dive to greater depths than other terns because they dive from greater altitudes.

  • Roseate Tern Sighting


May 2012, São Vicente - Madeira Island © René Pop



April 2013, São Vicente - Madeira Island © Birds & Company

  • Literature

[1] Equipa Atlas 2008. Atlas das Aves Nidificantes em Portugal (1999-2005). Instituto da Conservação da Natureza e da Biodiversidade, Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves, Parque Natural da Madeira e Secretaria Regional do Ambiente e do Mar. Assírio & Alvim. Lisboa. 

[2] Kirkham, I.R. and Nisbet, I.C.T. (1987) Feeding techniques and field identification of Arctic, Common and Roseate Terns. British Birds 80:41-47.

[3] Mullarney, Killian; Svensson, Lars; Zetterstrom, Dan; Grant, Peter (1999). Collins Bird Guide. London: Collins.

[4] Snow, D. W.; Perrins, C. M. 1998. The Birds of the Western Palearctic vol. 1: Non-Passerines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.


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