The common tern, Luxembourg's bird of the year for 2024; Credit: Jean Theisen

The natur&ëmwelt Asbl has announced that the common tern is Luxembourg's bird of the year for 2024.

This tern is an explorer: it spends the summer semester in Europe and prefers the sunny coasts of Africa during the winter months. Terns are seabirds (just like the closely related gulls) and are found more on the coasts than in the country’s inland areas. Terns get their name from their forked tails, typical of swallows, although they are not related to this species, but rather to gulls.

At the beginning of April, common terns return from their winter quarters in Central Europe and settle on their nesting sites, on the shallow sea coasts but also in the inland areas of countries, along major rivers. They look for flat areas in the gravel pits or occupy breeding rafts set up specifically for them.

However, such natural waterways have become very rare and common terns often rely on human assistance. This is the case in Luxembourg: with the construction of the Biodiversum nature centre at Haff Réimech (Remerschen), floating breeding rafts were set up for terns and other aquatic birds. The success was immediate, since the first common terns nested on the new gravel islets in 2017.

From mid-April to the end of July, common terns are easy to observe at Haff Réimech and visitors can see them fishing and raising their young. They are of interest to many nature photographers. In 2023, natur&ëmwelt renewed the breeding rafts and a joint project with Nabu in Saarland was set up.

A new danger for this species was a widespread avian flu pandemic in 2023. Many common terns and black-headed gulls fell victim to it. Only habitats close to their natural state can compensate for these losses, natur&ëmwelt stressed.

Every year, the bird of the year is presented in schools as part of the Schoul an Natur (school and nature) campaign. This week, cycles 3 and 4 of primary schools are receiving a brochure from natur&ëmwelt, which informs them about the common tern. An educational file with numerous game instructions allows teaching staff to present this graceful tern in class. With the collaboration of Luxembourg's National Museum of Natural History (Musée national d'histoire naturelle Luxembourg - MNHN), a poster was designed, which all students can use. The action is placed under the patronage of Luxembourg’s Ministries of the Environment, Climate and Biodiversity and Education, Children and Youth.

This material is also available at the Naturshop at the Kockelscheuer. Bird lovers and collectors will also be able to purchase this year's common tern sticker for €2. This is the 47th edition.

The brochure and the file with numerous game ideas and a quiz are also suitable for home teaching and can be downloaded from the educational offer on There are also photos and videos on the construction of the breeding rafts available on the website and, later in the spring, short films on the common terns of Haff Réimech.