Family Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Least Concern

White-cheeked Tern (Sterna repressa)


French: Sterne à joues blanches German: Weißwangen-Seeschwalbe Spanish: Charrán arábigo

Sterna repressa

E. J. O. Hartert

, 1916,

Al Faw, south Iraq, Persian Gulf




Red Sea S to Somalia and Kenya, and E through Persian Gulf and Oman to W India (Bombay). Winters on coasts of NE Africa and Arabian Sea to SW India and Laccadives.

Descriptive notes

32–35 cm; 78–142 g; wingspan 73–83 cm. Darker than all other typical Sterna terns, in breeding plumage recalling Chlidonias hybrida: black... read more


Generally similar to Common Tern Sterna hirundo but described as often gentler. The... read more


A tropical coastal species, often found at sea, but very rare inland. Nests on rock, sand, gravel... read more

Food and feeding

Small fish (average 5 cm) and invertebrates. In Egypt, mainly silverside (Atherinomorus lacunosus) and clupeids (Spratelloides... read more


May–June in Sudan and Oman, July–September in Egypt, Somalia and Kenya. In mixed colonies with other terns, e.g. Thalasseus... read more


Present in the Red Sea April–September, in Egypt April–November, in E Africa throughout... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern) but the overall trend is probably of decline due to excessive harvesting of eggs. The global population was estimated at 600,000... read more

Recommended citation

Gochfeld, M., Burger, J., Kirwan, G.M. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2019). White-cheeked Tern (Sterna repressa). 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 15 November 2019).