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common name for a sea bird of the Old and New Worlds, smaller than the related gullgull,
common name for an aquatic bird of the family Laridae, which also includes the tern and the jaeger. It is found near all oceans and many inland waters. Gulls are larger and bulkier than terns, and their tails are squared rather than forked.
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. Because of their graceful flight and their long pointed wings and forked tails, some terns are called sea swallows. They plunge headlong into the water to catch small fish. The arctic tern migrates from the arctic to the antarctic. American terns include the common, least, Forster's, noddy, sooty, roseate, and royal terns, all of the genus Sterna. Terns are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Charadriiformes, family Laridae.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



any one bird of the subfamily Sterninae of the family Laridae of the order Charadriiformes. The body measures 20 to 55 cm long. The wings are long and narrow, and the tail is forked. The bill is pointed and, in contrast to that of the gulls, is not hooked. The tern’s flight is light and rapid. The bird is a good swimmer.

There are ten genera, comprising 43 species, which are widely distributed. In the USSR there are five genera, comprising ten species. Terns live on the shores of seas, small streams, and lakes. They usually nest in colonies on sand banks. Chlidonias species nest on overgrown lakes; some tropical terns (the genera Anous and Gygis) nest on bushes and trees. One to four eggs are laid per clutch and incubated 14 to 22 days. Terns feed primarily on aquatic insects and small fish; some species feed on lizards and locusts.

The most common species in the USSR are the common tern (Sterna hirundo), which is distributed throughout the country except the Far North; the arctic tern (S. paradisaea), which inhabits the northern part of the country and in the winter migrates to the South Atlantic; and the black tern (Chlidonias nigra), which inhabits the middle and southern belts (in the east as far as the Ob’ River).


Ptitsy Sovetskogo Soiuza, vol. 3. Edited by G. P. Dement’ev and N. A. Gladkov. Moscow, 1951.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


any aquatic bird of the subfamily Sterninae, having a forked tail, long narrow wings, a pointed bill, and a typically black-and-white plumage: family Laridae (gulls, etc.), order Charadriiformes


a three-masted schooner
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Numerous young birds were already learning to fly and to float on the water, and if no other typhoon was approaching, the terns might soon be leaving Matsu to seek out warmer areas south, experts said.
Arctic terns had a trickier year, but a peak number of 400 fledglings were counted roosting on the beach, which is similar to last year.
Terns signed a global, exclusive agreement with Eli Lilly in 2018 to develop, manufacture, and commercialize TERN-201 for the treatment of NASH.
Terns Pharmaceuticals is a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company that is focused on the discovery and development of medicines for chronic liver disease and cancer.
Little tern and chick at the Long Nanny site in Northumberland
There are various terns with black crests but we always named them Arctic terns, and they migrate great distances across the oceans.
BirdWatch Ireland's Dalkey Tern warden Tara Adcock is delighted by the project's success.
Many hatched around the Irish Sea, including Sandwich Terns from Cemlyn nature reserve and Little Terns from Gronant beach, but three Sandwich Terns seen last week had travelled much farther.
Reader Sue Al-Mahmeed was so thrilled by her painting of a lesser crested tern preening itself that she immediately contacted this newspaper asking to make contact with Ipshita so she could purchase it: "It was absolutely perfect," she said.
The wooden platform is filled with a base of crushed shells and gives the terns a safe place to nest, away from ground-based predators.
Terns president and CEO Weidong Zhong said, 'Since we launched the company a short time ago, we have been working diligently to advance our key programs and continue executing on our strategy to bring innovative therapeutics to underserved patients globally, and with this financing we are well positioned to continue to execute on that mission.
The chicks' progress is being monitored by two wardens who have gone to extreme measures to help the terns breed.