Family Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Least Concern

Yellow-billed Tern (Sternula superciliaris)


French: Sterne argentée German: Amazonasseeschwalbe Spanish: Charrancito amazónico

Sterna superciliaris


, 1819,



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


E Colombia (E of Andes) S to NE Peru, and E to the Guianas, E Brazil and CE Argentina (Buenos Aires).

Descriptive notes

23 cm; 40–57 g. Very similar to the Least Tern S. antillarum, but slightly larger and longer-legged, with a stouter, entirely yellow bill, lacking... read more


Calls include a short nasal “kuk” and a slightly longer raspy “rreh”, typically repeated in loose... read more


Broad rivers. Breeds mainly on riverine sandbars and lake beaches, in mixed colonies with Black... read more

Food and feeding

Small fish (7–45 mm), shrimps and insects; sometimes predominantly insects (Peru). Often feeds by hovering and plunge-diving from 3... read more


Virtually unstudied. November in Surinam, December in Uruguay, July in Peru; timing dependent on exposure of riverine sandbars in dry... read more


The principal known main movement is apparently along river valleys to coasts, where non-breeders... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). No reliable population figures available but the global population may be within the range of 25,000–100,000 individuals. ... read more

Recommended citation

Gochfeld, M., Burger, J., Garcia, E.F.J. & Boesman, P. (2020). Yellow-billed Tern (Sternula superciliaris). 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 22 February 2020).