Family Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)


Peruvian Tern (Sternula lorata)


French: Sterne du Pérou German: Peruseeschwalbe Spanish: Charrancito peruano

Sterna lorata

R. A. Philippi [Krumwiede] and Landbeck

, 1861,

Arica, Chile


Closely related to S. albifrons, S. saundersi, S. antillarum and S. superciliaris. Monotypic.


Humboldt Current zone from C Ecuador (Guayaquil) to N Chile (Antofagasta). Few confirmed breeding sites in Peru (Pacasmayo, Paraíso, Puerto Viejo, Pampa Lechuzas, Yanyarina)#R and Chile (Mejillones Peninsula and nearby areas)#R#R.

Descriptive notes

22–24 cm. Typical small tern: white forehead extending over eye, contrasting with black cap and lores; pale grey upperparts; dark outer primaries; pale greyish white... read more


The vernacular name in Chile, chirrio, is onomatopoeic. The frequent contact call is a short and... read more


Coastal. Breeds on broad sandy beaches and sand dunes, often more than 1000 m from tide-line; and... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly small fish, particularly anchovetta (Engraulis ringens); 10% of diet reported by one study was krill (Euphausia).... read more


October–January (mainly November); full-grown juveniles in mid-February. Semi-colonial to solitary; nests more than 50 m apart in... read more


Unknown, but returns to colony sites in mid-October. Post-breeding dispersal occurs from April... read more

Status and conservation

ENDANGERED. Previously considered not globally threatened. Status very poorly known; species probably rather rare. Estimated maximum population in Peru 5000 pairs but the... read more

Recommended citation

Gochfeld, M., Burger, J. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). Peruvian Tern (Sternula lorata). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 27 February 2020).