Least tern Sterna antillarum

Identification Tips:

Adult alternate:

Adult basic:


First winter/First summer:

Similar species:

No other North American tern approaches the Least Tern in size except the Black Tern. When flying the wingbeats often are so rapid that they cannot be counted. Most larger terns fly with wingbeats slow enough to be counted. Black Tern is closest in size but has a swallow-like flight, rarely dives for prey, is dark gray above and has a dark gray tail and is entirely black below in adult alternate plumage. The yellow bill and legs, and white forehead of the adult Least Tern are distinctive at rest.