New York Natural Heritage Program
Common Tern
Sterna hirundo Linnaeus, 1758

New York State Distribution [-]
The Common Tern's statewide distribution includes Long island, along Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, islands within the Saint Lawrence river, the Finger Lakes, Lake Champlain, and a few sites along the Hudson River. The largest colonies in New York are found on Long Island and include locations on both the north and south shores and off the eastern tip (McGowan and Corwin 2008). Great Gull Island is the largest colony in the state, and in the western hemisphere, and Buffalo harbor is the largest colony upstate.

Global Distribution [-]
BREEDING: Common Terns breed from northern Alberta across central Ontario and southern Quebec to southern Labrador, south to eastern Washington, southeastern Alberta, northeastern Montana, North Dakota, northeastern South Dakota, central Minnesota, northeastern Illinois, northwestern Indiana, southern Michigan, northern Ohio, northwestern Pennsylvania, southeastern, central and northern New York, and northwestern Vermont, locally along coast to North Carolina, and locally on Gulf Coast and Bermuda, Greater Antilles, and Netherlands Antilles (AOU 1983, van Halewyn and Norton 1984). Nonbreeders occur in summer at James Bay, throughout Great Lakes region, along Atlantic-Gulf coast, south in Middle America to Costa Rica, and throughout West Indies. Common Terns also breed outside of the Americas throughout temperate Europe and Asia (see Nisbet 2002 for description). NON-BREEDING: The winter range of Common Terns includes the west coast of Central America and both coasts of South America, south to Peru on the Pacific and northern Argentina on the Atlantic (Hays, et al. 1997, Hays, et al. 1999, AOU 1983, Nisbet 2002); rare in Hawaii.
Best Places to See
• Breezy Point (Queens County)
• Buffalo Harbor (Erie County)
• Sand City (Suffolk County)