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Arctic Tern
Arctic Tern
Arctic Tern sites cared for by the Trust
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Fair Isle

Fair Isle

The largest NTS colony of Arctic Terns is on Fair Isle.

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The ground nesting habit of this species makes it particularly susceptible to predation by mink, which explains its disappearance from many Argyll islands, including Iona. At other sites, shortage of its main prey species, sandeels, has been blamed for its disappearance.

The largest NTS colony is on Fair Isle with 1,250 pairs. In some years, breeding success is severely hampered by shortage of sandeels.


Plunge dives for fish to a depth of 0.5 m. Small fish, including Sandeels, Herring, Sprat, Capelin and Sticklebacks.

Nest site

On shingle, sand, storm beaches, and low rocky shores where it makes a shallow depression.


May to mid June where they lay 1-3 eggs.


Performs the longest migration of any bird from northern Europe to its wintering zone is in the Antarctic.


UK, Ireland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Spitsbergen, Franz Jossef Land, Bear Island and Jan Mayen Island.

Other Information

One of our most graceful seabird, yet capable of the longest migration of any bird.

Other Tern family birds at Trust sites