Roseate Tern

Sterna dougallii

What do they look like?

The roseate tern is a white bird with a black-capped head and red legs. In the summer its black bill is partly red and the belly has a pinkish tinge. Its tail is long and forked. It can be differentiated from the arctic and common terns as it will appear to be a brighter white and has shorter wings.

When can I see them in Scotland?

Summer, May to August

Where can I them in Scotland?

These coastal birds will not be found inland. One of the best places to spot them in Scotland is the Firth of Forth. During their migration, the east of Scotland is where you are most likely to see the roseate tern.

Conservation status

In the UK, bird species with breeding, passage or wintering populations are assessed by experts and assigned to Red, Amber or Green lists of conservation concern. Roseate tern is currently a ‘Red’ listed species.

21-26 days
22-30 days
8 years
Average Lifespan

A roseate tern viewed from beneath as it glides overhead
© Shutterstock Pete Morris