Sandwich Tern


Sandwich tern (Sterna sandvicensis)




40 cm


The sandwich tern is much larger than the common tern. It has white underparts and the grey back is paler than other similar-sized terns. Sandwich terns have a slight shaggy crest and a black cap when breeding. It differs from the gull-billed tern with a much slimmer appearance and long thin yellow-tipped black bill.

Sandwich Tern Call

The call is a strident rasping ‘kirrik-kirrik’.

Sandwich Tern Diet

The sandwich tern feeds mostly on small fish but also eats shrimp, squid, marine worms and insects.


The sandwich tern is found in small groups along the coasts resting on beaches and feeds just offshore.

Sandwich Tern Status

The sandwich term is of least concern and a common summer visitor.

Where they are found

The sandwich tern is found along the South African coasts and as far north as Mozambique. It migrates from the western and eastern Atlantic.