The Roseate Tern is a small-medium tern, with a wingspan of 67-76 cm (Higgins & Davies 1996). The Roseate Tern has a slender, pointed, black bill, which develops a red base in the breeding season. The upper wings are grey and the underside is white. Adults have long, flexible tail streamers and orange-red legs (Higgins & Davies 1996). In Australia, the subspecies gracillis occurs on much of the west, north and north-east coasts, from south-west Western Australia to south-east Queensland, with rare records from north NSW. In Western Australia, the subspecies is regularly recorded north from Mandurah to around Eighty Mile Beach, in the Pilbara Region. Around the Kimberley coastline, the subspecies occurs at scattered sites, north to the Bonaparte Archipelago and possibly further. Records in south-west Western Australia indicate that the subspecies used to be a sporadic visitor to the region, but occurs regularly at present. In addition, breeding colonies have been established on Lancelin Island and Second Rock, off Western Australia (Higgins & Davies 1996). In the Northern Territory, the subspecies has a scattered occurrence along the north coast, mainly from Darwin to Gove Peninsula, though birds have been recorded west to North Peron Island and east to the Sir Edward Pellow Islands (Chatto 2001). The subspecies is more widespread in the west and south-west of the Gulf of Carpentaria (Higgins & Davies 1996). In Queensland, scattered records occur in the south-east Gulf of Carpentaria and west Cape York Peninsula, but birds are possibly more widespread, with large numbers nesting on south-east Bountiful Island. Birds are widespread along the east coast of Australia, south to about Hervey Bay. They are more sparsely distributed, further south, occasionally reaching north Fraser Island (Higgins & Davies 1996). The subspecies also occurs throughout the Torres Strait.
Roseate Tern |
Government evidence of impact of climate change:
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IUCN Red List Assessment, Sterna dougallii
Habitat loss in northern Europe is not a major problem but has caused the local extinction of some colonies; as have extreme weather events (Avery et al. 1995).