Breeding Bird Atlas 1 Additional Accounts

Forster‘s Tern

Sterna forsteri

State Status:

Special Concern

A Forster’s Tern nest containing two eggs was discovered in the Plum Island salt marshes at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, Essex County, on June 10, 1991 Rimmer & Hopping 1991). This record represents the first for Massachusetts and the northernmost documented nesting attempt on the Atlantic coast. Breeding was first suspected at Plum Island in 1990, yet, despite the fact that Forster’s Terns have probably nested irregularly in the area since the initial discovery, there has been no absolute confirmation since 1991. In 1981, the species first began breeding as far north as Long Island, New York; that population is currently composed of fewer than 100 pairs Levine 1998).

Forster’s Terns are best characterized as variably uncommon to locally common fall migrants along the coast. Inland and during other seasons they are rare, except occasionally in the aftermath of hurricanes that transport them northward in large numbers.