They are elegant, beautiful and remarkable birds that fly extraordinary distances. Arctic Terns are one of the most famous seabirds in the world, known for their long-distance migrations from one pole to another.

Antarctica is a bird lover’s dream and seeing magnificent birds like the Arctic Tern and learning about the many species of birds we see on our voyages is a special experience. We always have a resident bird expert or Ornithologist onboard to offer insight and knowledge into the world of Antarctic birds.

Counting penguins in Antarctica

World Wanderers

  • Weighing at just 85-100g(that’s 3-5 ounces) they are the world record holder for longest distance traveled
  • Arctic Terns fly annually between the Northern and Southern hemispheres, making the incredible return trip of around 44,000 miles or more each year
  • That’s the equivalent of THREE round trips to the moon and an estimated 2.4 million kilometres in their lifetime
  • Because of their migratory pattern, Arctic Terns see more daylight than any other animal in the world.
Arctic Terns

It’s Not Just About Looks

  • These beautiful birds are identifiable by their slender appearance, white body, black head, and red bills and legs
  • Non-breeding adults and juvenile Arctic Terns have grey and white feathers as well
  • Arctic Tern hatchlings can be grey or brown, and chicks from the same parents aren’t necessarily the same color.

Nest of the North

  • Arctic Terns nest in the Arctic during the winter months
  • They molt their feathers and rest on small blocks of ice at the edge of the pack ice, rarely flying
  • These birds breed in the Arctic and then travel to Antarctica to enjoy the Antarctic summer from about November to March.
  • While migrating, Arctic Terns tend to stay out at sea. They will take big detours in order to find better feeding grounds or avoid inclement weather
  • They can be spotted in coastal North America from late April through May as they return from Antarctica on their way back to their breeding grounds
Counting penguins in Antarctica

Friends & Foes

  • Arctic Terns are social birds that forage in groups and nest on the ground in large colonies
  • They have many social calls for each other as well as calls that identify them to other birds
  • These birds will ferociously defend their nests, so much so that even other bird species take advantage of their protection by building nests nearby

Dine & Dash

  • Arctic Terns dine on fish and crustaceans which they obtain by dive-bombing the water
  • Other than hummingbirds, they are the only birds that can hover
  • Much of their time in the air is spent gliding, so much so that they can sleep while gliding

Interested in an encounter with the spectacular Arctic Tern?

Reach out to our team to learn more about our voyages any time!