Galapagos Sooty Tern

Name: Sooty Tern
Family: Sternidae
Scientific name: Sterna fuscata
Length: 38 - 45 cm (15 - 17.7 in)
Weight: 6.3 oz (150 to 240 grams)
Wingspan: 86 - 94 cm (34 - 37 in)

Category: Sea Birds
Number of Species: 47
Endemic Species: 13

In total, 47 species of sea birds have been recorded in the Galapagos, 19 of which are resident to the Islands. The sea birds therefore account for nearly one third of all the species ever recorded in the islands and about the same proportion of the resident species.

Seabirds can be conveniently divided into 12 groups, as show in the table below. This shows the number of species recorded in each group and summarizes their status. If also shows the number of endemic species and the number of other species which are represented by endemic subspecies. Species are treated as migrants if they occur annually, vagrants being those recorded less frequently.

Category: Sea Birds
Family: Sternidae
Endemic Subspecies: Common Noddy

Six species of terns have been recorded in Galapagos: 2 residents and 4 vagrants. Terns are similar to gulls in many respects but are generally smaller, with narrower wings; thinner, straighter bills which lack the marked gonydeal angle; and shorter legs. Whilst terns are usually predominantly gray and white, the two species that breed in Galápagos are wholly dark brown (Common Noddy) and black and white (Sooty Tern). The sexes are alike. Terns feed by picking food from the surface of the water or by plunge-diving.

The Sooty Tern is a resident of the archipelago; breeding only on Darwin Island, where it is present in very large numbers. This bird is seen only infrequently elsewhere in Galapagos and thus we are not very likely to see it on a Galapagos cruise.

Unmistakable; the Sooty Tern is the only tern with contrasting black and white plumage. ADULT: Upper parts entirely black apart from white triangle on forehead; under parts white. In flight shows white outer tail-streamers. JUVENILE: Mostly sooty-brown, finely spotted white above, dusky below with paler belly.

Noisy, with loud "ker-wacky-wack" call at breeding colony.

Very buoyant flight. Often seen feeding in large flocks, snatching food from the surface of the sea; does not plunge dive

Galapagos Sooty Tern