Ascension Island Government

Conservation > Discover > Flora and Fauna > Sooty Tern

Sooty Tern

Onychoprion fuscatus

Type: Seabird | Status: Least Concern | Nativeness: Native


A medium-sized, highly pelagic seabird with contrasting black and white plumage and a distinctive call. On Ascension Island they are commonly referred to as Wideawakes, as the birds will vocalise through the night. They are extremely sociable, forming very large nesting colonies on open ground. These colonies can be tens of thousands of birds strong. Their diet consists predominantly of small fish and squid picked from the surface of ocean. Sooty terns almost always feed in association with sub-surface predators such as tuna and dolphins which drive prey within their reach.

On Ascension Island, these birds are found at both Mars Bay and Waterside Nature Reserves, where they will roost and nest on the bare volcanic rock.

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