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Arctic Tern

Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Sterna paradisaea

The museum collection preserves a considerable amount of Arctic Tern material including study skins (pictured), egg sets, skeletons, whole fluid-preserved specimens and a charming taxidermy mount.

Length 11–15 1/2 inches, wingspan 25 1/2–29 1/2 inches
Arctic and subarctic regions of North America, Europe, and Asia. Within the United States as far south as Massachusetts.
Varies tremendously with movements. Breeding habitat includes open tundra, boreal forest, rocky islands, and beaches. Migration habitat includes the open ocean far off-shore, and winter habitat includes the edge of pack ice in the southern oceans.
Its travel from Arctic breeding grounds to wintering grounds off Antarctica may cover 25,000 miles, the farthest yearly journey of any bird! It is curious that a creature of such magnificent range of flight would be attributed the Latin name paradisaea or “paradise.” Whether the Sterna paradisaea frequents the heavenly Garden of Eden upon its great travels, or perhaps is driven to the ends of the earth by a relentless search for it, remains unclear. However, during a period from July 25, 2015, to May 4, 2016, an Arctic Tern fitted with a lightweight tracking device made a meandering, round-trip journey of more than 59,000 miles between Britain’s Farne Islands and Antarctica. Look for a stationary version of this highly mobile species in Polar World during your next visit to Carnegie Museum of Natural History.