Black Tern

(Chlidonias niger)

Conservation Status
Black Tern
Photo by James Folden
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

     
  NatureServe

N4B - Apparently Secure Breeding

SNRB - Unranked Breeding

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Black tern is a small marsh tern.

Adults are 9116 to 14316 (23 to 36 cm) in length and have a wingspan of 22716 to 23 (57 to 60 mm). Breeding adults have a black head, neck, breast, and underparts, and a gray back. The wings are long, pointed, and gray. The tail is gray and shallowly forked. The undertail coverts are white. The bill is long, slender, and black. The legs are short and reddish-black. Nonbreeding adults have white underparts and a white forehead.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Total Length: 9116 to 14316 (23 to 36 cm)

Wingspan: 22716 to 23 (57 to 60 mm)

 
     
 

Voice

 
 

 

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
  This is the only black tern. Other terns are light colored.  
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Breeding: Shallow cattail marshes in wetlands and at the edges of shallow lakes.

Migration: Marshes near open water, flooded farm fields, edges of lakes and rivers, and sewage ponds.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Migration

 
 

Late April to early October

 
     
 

Nesting

 
 

A loose nest of dead plant material is built on floating vegetation or a muskrat mound.

 
     
 

Food

 
 

Insects and small fish

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common migrant and breeder. Declining.

 
         
 

Maps

 
 

The Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union All Seasons Species Occurrence Map

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Class Aves (birds)  
 

Order

Charadriiformes (shorebirds and allies)  
 

Family

Laridae (gulls, terns, and skimmers)  
 

Subfamily

Sterninae (terns and noddies)  
 

Genus

Chlidonias (marsh terns)  
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

Eurasian Black Tern (Chlidonias niger niger)

American Black Tern (Chlidonias niger surinamensis)

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Chilidonias niger

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       
Visitor Photos
   

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James Folden
       
  Black Tern   Black Tern
       
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
   
       
       

 

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slideshow

       
Visitor Videos
   

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Other Videos
 
  Black Tern (Chlidonias niger) A Few Chirps a Little Preening - Galveston County Texas
Colette Micallef
 
   
 
About

May 16, 2016

Black Tern (Chlidonias niger) A Few Chirps a Little Preening - Galveston County Texas - May 15, 2016

   
       
  BLACK TERN flying Chlidonias niger
Rob Curtis
 
   
 
About

Jul 7, 2016

Chlidonias niger = BLACK TERN flying Goose Lake, Hebron, IL. 6/20/2016.

photo gallery at: http://theearlybirder.com/laridae/blacktern/index.htm

   
       
  American Black Tern (Chlidonias niger surinamensis)
Andrew Cooper
 
   
 
About

Oct 9, 2019

A film of the American Black Tern at Longham Lakes, Dorset, UK on October 8th 2019

   
       

 

Camcorder

         
Visitor Sightings
   
Report a sighting of this bird.
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James Folden
7/8/2018

Location: Nicollet County, over Swan Lake

Black Tern


 
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Created: 3/5/2021

Last Updated:

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