This species mostly breeds on large beaches that have wide open surfaces with no or only sparse vegetation. This may be on islands and islets as well as on the mainland. It feeds on small fish an shrimps from both salt and fresh water. It prefers shallow coastal areas. It is considered as one of the most endangered coastal birds. Breeding colonies are mostly small with 20-30 pairs, and breeding in solitary pairs also occurs.

The Little tern is listed on Annex I of the Birds Directive (Directive 2009/147/EC).