Photographing The Little Tern

Here are some top tips for photographing the little tern.

|  Arena D+ 10x50 B in Animals / Wildlife
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little tern

Little terns fly over half of the world every year, not bad for birds weighing less than a tennis ball.


The Little Tern is about 24 centimetres long and weighs about 45 grams. That’s lighter than half a chocolate bar! Their long narrow wings and short legs are highly optimized for flying. The outer feathers of the wings are black, the tail however is white and forked. The back is light grey and the underside is white. The best way to identify them is their black mask-like head pattern and white forehead. The bill is yellow with a black tip.



Apart from the American continent, the Little Tern can be found almost everywhere in the world. However, it avoids the north of Russia and central China. In Africa and Australia, they are essentially found in coastal regions. In Central Europe, the Little Tern also used to settle inland along natural rivers’ gravel and sandbanks. Such habitats hardly exist today and little terns had to move to the coasts.

The Little Tern is a migratory bird. Every year in autumn it sets off on a long journey to West Africa and spends the winter there. Their return to their breeding areas takes place at the beginning of May.


Behaviour and interesting facts

Like most terns, little terns feed by plunge-diving. They usually hover above the water and plunge once they found a small fish, sometimes from 10 meters high. They may feed on insects on some occasions. Males also use fishes as an offering during their courtship display.

By the end of May, the female lays 1 to 3 eggs. The nest is usually a shallow depression in the sand. Both parents incubate the eggs for 17 to 22 days. Terns are very defensive of their nest and young and will never hesitate to attack an intruder getting too close.

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