New York Natural Heritage Program
Gull-billed Tern
Gelochelidon nilotica (Gmelin, 1789)

American Ornithologists' Union. 1998. Check-list of North American Birds, 7th edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
Bannerman, D.A. 1962. The birds of the British Isles. Vol. II. Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh, Scotland.
Bent, A.C. 1921. Life histories of North American gulls and terns. U.S. Natl. Mus. Bull. 113. Washington, D.C.
Blokpoel, H., G. D. Tessier, and R. A. B. Andress. 1997. Successful restoration of the Ice Island Common Tern colony requires ongoing control of Ring-billed Gulls. Colon. Waterbirds 20:98-101.
Bull, John. 1964. Birds of the New York area. New York: Harper and Row Publications 540 pp.
Bull, John. 1974. Birds of New York State. Doubleday, Garden City, New York. 655 pp.
Bull, John. 1976. supplement to birds of New York State. Special publ. of Federation of New York State Bird Clubs. 52 pp.
Burger, J. 1989. Least Tern populations in coastal New Jersey: monitoring and management of a regionally-endangered species. Journal of Coastal Research 5:801-811.
Chaney, A. H., B. R. Chapman, J. P. Karges, D. A. Nelson, R. R. Schmidt, and L. C. Thebeau. 1978. Use of dredged material islands by colonial seabirds and wading birds in Texas. Tech. Rep. D-78-8. U.S. Army Engineer Waterways Exp. Stn. Vicksburg, MS.
Cramp, S. 1985. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa: the birds of the western Palearctic. Vol. 4. Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, UK.
Cruickshank, A.D. 1942. Birds around New York City. American Museum of Natural History Handbook Series no. 13. New York.
Dement'Ev, G. P. and N. A. Gladkov. 1951. Birds of the Soviet Union. Vol. 3. (1969 translation from Russian). Israel Progr. Sci. Trans. Jerusalem.
Densmore, R. J. 1990. Gull-billed Tern predation on a Least Tern chick. Wilson Bull. 102:180-181.
Forbush, E.H. 1939. Natural history of the birds of eastern and central North America. Revised and abridged by J.B. May. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, M.A.
Griscom, L. 1923. Birds of the New York City region. American Museum of Natural History, Handbook Series No. 9, New York, New York. 400 pp.
Harrison, C. 1978. A Field Guide to the Nests, Eggs and Nestlings of North American Birds. Collins, Cleveland, Ohio.
Harrison, H. H. 1979. A field guide to western birds' nests. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 279 pp.
Harrison, H.H. 1975. A field guide to birds' nests of 285 species found breeding in the United States east of the Mississippi River. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.
Harrison, P. 1983. Seabirds: an identification guide. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
Hartig E.K., V. Gornitz, A. Kolker, F. Mushacke, and D. Fallon. 2002. Anthropogenic and climate-change impacts on salt marshes of Jamaica Bay, New York City. Wetlands. 22(1):71-89.
Keys, Jr.,J.; Carpenter, C.; Hooks, S.; Koenig, F.; McNab, W.H.; Russell, W.;Smith, M.L. 1995. Ecological units of the eastern United States - first approximation (cd-rom), Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. GIS coverage in ARCINFO format, selected imagery, and map unit tables.
Kolker, A.S. 2005. The impacts of climate variability and anthropogenic activities on salt marsh accretion and loss on Long Island. Dissertation. State University of New York at Stony Brook. 759 pp.
Kress, S. W. 1997. Using animal behavior for conservation: case studies in seabird restoration from the Maine coast, USA. J. Yamashina Inst. Ornithol. 29:1-26.
Kress, S. W., E. H. Weinstein, and I. C. T. Nisbet. 1983. The status of tern populations in northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. Colon. Waterbirds 6:84-106.
Levine, E. 1998. Bull's birds of New York State. Comstock Publishing Associates, Ithaca, NY.
Lind, H. 1963. The reproductive behavior of the Gull-billed Tern, Sterna nilotica. Vidensk. Medd. Dansk Naturhist. Foren. 125:407-448.
McGowan, K.J. and K. Corwin, eds. 2008. The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in New York State: 2000-2005. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY. 688 pp.
Molina, K. C. 1999. An evaluation of parental investment hypotheses using Gull-billed Terns and Black Skimmers (Aves: Laridae) at the Salton Sea, California. M.S. thesis. California State University, Northridge.
Molina, K. C., J. F. Parnell and R. M. Erwin. 2009. Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online:
Molina, K.C., R. M. Erwin, E. Palacios, E. Mellink, and N. Seto. 2010. Status Review and Conservation Recommendations for the Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica) in North America. Biological Technical Publication BTP-R1013-2010. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Montalto, F.A., and T.S. Steenhuis. 2004. The link between hydrology and restoration of tidal marshes in the New York/ New Jersey estuary. Wetlands 24:414-425.
Møller, A. P. 1981. Breeding cycle of the Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica) especially in relation to colony size. Ardea 69:193-198.
NatureServe. 2005. NatureServe Central Databases. Arlington, Virginia. USA
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2011. Biotics database. New York Natural Heritage Program. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY.
New York State Breeding Bird Atlas. 1984. Preliminary species distribution maps, 1980-1984. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Wildlife Resources Center. Delmar, NY.
New York State Breeding Bird Atlas. 1985. Final breeding bird distribution maps, 1980-1985. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Wildlife Resources Center. Delmar, NY.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Checklist of the amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals of New York State, including their protective status. Nongame Unit, Wildlife Resources Center, Delmar, NY.
Nisbet, Ian C. 2002. Common Tern (Sterna hirundo), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online:
Parnell, J. F. and R. F. Soots, Jr. 1979. Atlas of colonial waterbirds of North Carolina estuaries. UNC-SG-78-10, North Carolina State University, UNC Sea Grant, Raleigh, NC.
Portnoy, J. W. 1977. Nesting colonies of seabirds and wading birds-coastal Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. FWS/OBS-77/07, U.S. Fish and Wildl. Serv. Biol. Serv. Progr. Washington, D.C.
Quinn, J. S. and D. A. Wiggins. 1990. Differences in prey delivered to chicks by individual Gull-billed Terns. Colonial Waterbirds 13(1):67-69.
Rohwer, S. A. and G. E. Woolfenden. 1968. The varied diet of the Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica). Wilson Bull. 80:330-331.
Schreiber, R. W. and E. A. Schreiber. 1978. Succession on dredged material islands in Florida. Report D-78-14. U.S. Army Engineer Waterways Exp. Stn. Vicksburg, MS.
Sears, H. F. 1981. The display behavior of the Gull-billed Tern. J. Field Ornithol. 52:191-209.
Sprunt, A., Jr. 1954. Florida Bird Life. National Audubon Society and Coward-McCann, Inc., New York, New York. 527 pp.
Vinicombe, H. E., and A. Harris. 1989. Field identification of gull-billed tern. British Birds 82:3-13.
Wilson, A. 1840. Wilson's American ornithology (revised by T. M. Brewer). Otis, Broaders, and Co. Boston.


Funding from the NYSDEC Hudson River Estuary Program made the initial development of these guides possible.

Additional support has been provided by

Website architect: Andrew Blick.
Modifications and updates: David Marston and Matthew Buff.

Global data are provided by NatureServe and its Natural Heritage member programs, a leading source of information about rare and endangered species, and threatened ecosystems.

New York Natural Heritage Program
625 Broadway, 5th Floor, Albany, NY 12233-4757
Phone: (518) 402-8935 Fax: (518) 402-8925

Please send comments and suggestions to: acris [at] nynhp [dot] org

To continue building a comprehensive, up-to-date database of information on the locations of rare species in New York State, we invite your contributions. If you have information on a rare species, please fill out our Online Rare Species Reporting Form. If you have information on ecological communities, please fill out a Natural Heritage Reporting Form (two-page MS Word document).

This guide was authored by: Kelly A. Perkins
Information for this guide was last updated on: 08-Aug-2017