Nests on ground in wide variety of open, usually treeless terrain types, often with no vegetation or with low or scattered plant cover. Generally nests close to water, frequently on small rocky, gravelly, grassy or peaty islands; also barrier beaches and sand or gravel pits, gravel bars in rivers, or glacial moraines, as well as marshes, bogs, and grassy meadows (Hatch et al. 1978, Mickelson et al. 1980, Baird 1983, Rosenberg 1986, Kessel 1989, Petersen et al. 1991, Hatch 2002). Forages over open water where prey is available in surface waters; generally within 20 km of colony. Foragers visit rocky shores, shallow bays, tidal flats, shoals, ice edges and faces of tidewater glaciers, tide rips, ocean fronts and upwellings. Inland, principally forages at streams, rivers, and lakes (Hatch 2002).
Baird, P. A. 1983. Terns (Sterna spp.). Pp. 204-234 in: Baird, P.A. and P.J. Gould (Eds.). The breeding biology and feeding ecology of marine birds in the Gulf of Alaska. USFWS and NOAA. OCSEAP Final Report 45.
Hatch, J. J. 2002. Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea). In The Birds of North America, No. 707 (A. Poole and F. Gill, Eds.). Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences; Washington, D.C.: The American Ornithologists’ Union.
Hatch, S. A., D. R. Nysewander, A. R. DeGange, M. R. Petersen, P. A. Baird, K. D. Wohl, and C. J. Lensink. 1978. Population dynamics and trophic relationships of marine birds in the Gulf of Alaska and southern Bering Sea. In: Environmental assessment of the Alaskan Continental Shelf, Annual reports of principal investigators for the year ending March 1978: Volume III. Receptors – Birds. OCSEAP Report.
Kessel, B. 1989. Birds of the Seward Peninsula, Alaska: their biogeography, seasonality, and natural history. Univ. of Alaska Press, Fairbanks, AK. 330 pp.
Mickelson, P.G., J.S. Hawkins, D.R. Herter, and S.M. Murphy. 1980. Habitat use by birds and other wildlife on the eastern Copper River delta, Alaska. Unpubl. rep. Univ. of Alaska, Alaska Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, Fairbanks, AK. 189 pp.
Petersen, M. R., D. N. Weir, and M. H. Dick. 1991. Birds of the Kilbuck and Ahklun Mountain Region, Alaska. North American Fauna 76. 158 pp.
Rosenberg, D. H. 1986. Wetland types and bird use of Kenai lowlands. USFWS, Region 7, Special Studies, Anchorage, AK, 189 pp.