Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea
Common along the coasts around the whole of the island group. The only tern species that nests on Svalbard. Forages, often in groups, over the sea and often along beaches, current zones, glacier edges and river deltas. Can also forage in fresh water. Probably more than 10,000 pairs breed.
Features: 33-36 cm, 100-125 gram. ♂=♀. The young resemble the adults, but are slightly smaller, lack the long outer tail feathers, have dark markings on the wings, dark bill and white forehead. One year old birds have a black bill, black feet, white forehead and lack the long outer tail feathers. The adults begin to gain winter plumage with white forehead and darker bill tip in the last half of September.
Breeding: Breeds mainly in colonies on islands, in both salt and fresh water, where there are no Arctic Foxes. Nests also at other sites such as beaches in the deltas and among buildings. Normally lays one or two eggs in a small hollow directly on the ground (usually in gravel). Warns intensely and is aggressive towards intruders at the nest site. Often hacks intruders on the head if they come too near the eggs or young.