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Common Tern

Sterna hirundo

Common tern. Photo Aaro Toivio.

General information. The distribution area of the common tern in Finland stretches from the coast, through the mainland all the way north of the Polar Circle. It is a migratory species that winters on the south coast of Africa. The species returns to Finland in April and migrates south soon after during August. The common tern is a protected species under the European Union bird directive.

  • Length 31-35 cm
  • Nests on the surface of sand fields in a shallow scratching
  • Winters in South Africa
  • Feeds on fish and insects

Habitat. The common tern inhabits various types of water bodies. Along the coast, it can be found nesting both in the inner and outer archipelago. Within great inland lakes, the common tern can be found on barren skerries and islands. In close proximity to cityscapes, common and arctic terns have adapted to these particular urban environments, nesting in industrial sand field areas and even on top of flat roofs.

Distribution in Vaasa. The common tern was observed in approximately 140 survey blocks in Vaasa throughout the survey duration. The majority of the population was concentrated to the inner and outer archipelago, yet observations of this species were also made in Pukinjärvi and Pilvilampi. In the archipelago, the common tern was found nesting within arctic tern and black-headed gull colonies. Distribution map is not published due to species protection reasons.