Arctic Tern

Species Name: Sterna paradisaea


Species Distribution in Massachusetts


Federal Rank: None

Massachusetts State Rank: Special Concern

Habitat Description

Found in sandy gravelly areas on islands and barrier spits. Occasionally, they occur on mainland shores.

Threats to Survival

Because of their similarity to the Common Tern which makes it difficult to count populations accurately, there have been inconsistent population numbers. The millinery trade of the late 1800s had a very destructive effect on the Arctic Tern. Even after protections were put in place in the late 1940s populations have declined, and it is not fully known why this is occurring, however, predation and human disturbance play a role in the decline.

Actions Recommended to Ensure Survival

Limiting predation and human predation are the most predominant actions to be taken. Because Massachusetts is at the very southern edge of the Arctic Tern’s range, it has been theorized that there will never be a large amount of the birds in the state, so management may not be able to create a large population.