Sandwich Tern is found in many parts of the world, breeding in select
locations in Europe, southwestern Asia, Africa, South America, and the
Caribbean. In North America, they are only found along the Gulf Coast
of Mexico and the United States, and along the Atlantic coast of the U.S.
during the summer months. They are named after the town of Sandwich in
England, the site where the species was first identified.
Habitat: Found in areas with sandy areas during
the nesting season, such as sandy islands or beaches. Outside of the
breeding season, Sandwich Terns are found relatively close to shore, in
areas with shallow, warm waters.
Diet: Feeds mostly on fish, but will also eat
other small invertebrates such as marine worms, squid, and insects.
Behavior: Forages by plunge-diving, typically by
flying over the ocean's surface in search of food, hovering when food is
spotted, and then plumage-diving.
Nesting: The nest of a Sandwich Tern is a shallow
depression on the ground, lined with bits of vegetation or debris. The
female usually lays 1 or 2 eggs, and both parents help to incubate them.
When the eggs hatch, both parents help to feed them. The young fledge
after about 1 month, but typically stay with the parents for a few months
Song: The common call of a Sandwich tern is a
Migration: In North America, birds along the
Atlantic Coast move southward for the winter. Some birds are present
along the Gulf Coast and in Florida during the winter, but typically at
smaller numbers than during the summer months. Some birds may be permanent
residents in these regions, but others clearly move south for the winter.
A number of tern species are primarily light colored with a dark cap, and
are roughly similar in size, including the Elegant Tern,
Common Tern, Forster's Tern,
Conservation Status: Populations are considered
stable, they are found over a very wide geographic area, and they are common
in parts of their range.
The IUCN lists the
Sandwich Tern as a species of "Least Concern".