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Related to tern: arctic tern, Common Tern


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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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 ?
The least tern colony at Gibson Lake is an important component of the interior population, and potentially could serve as a source of dispersing individuals for colonies along the Wabash and Mississippi rivers.
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.
The Arctic Tern, nicknamed "seaswallow" after its long tail streamers and buoyant flight, is the world's greatest long-distance traveller, migrating further than any other animal.
Black Terns were on The Skerries and at Llyn Coed y Dinas, Welshpool, while small numbers of Mediterranean Gulls along the north coast were dwarfed by a count of 83 on Anglesey's Inland Sea.
"Having spent a great deal of time over almost 30 years on Busaiteen beach bird-watching the Caspian terns, they are close to my heart.
"The responsibility for this mistake is mine, and I apologize to all of you for not reading it closer to ensure that my intent was clear," Tern wrote in her letter to Democrats who co-sponsored the bill, which included all members of House minority leadership.
THE return of the common terns to Teesside is a clear indication that summer is on its way.
More than 500,000 sooty terns have been banded in the Dry Tortugas since the 1950s, and the Park Service follows them closely from the moment the birds arrive in mid-January until they begin leaving in July.
As part of her study, Ann-Kathrin used motion-triggered cameras to monitor activity at the tern nesting sites.
Tern's said objective is to act as a catalyst to add value to technology businesses it acquires by commercial involvement.
Chantal Macleod-Nolan, EU LIFE little tern project co-ordinator, said: "Last year we had a really good outcome with 44 pairs of little terns nesting on the Northumberland coast and 52 chicks fledging by the end of the season.