Black Tern Chlidonias niger   [Linnaeus, 1758]

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Order: Charadriiformes Family: Sternidae
BTO Codes: BJ, BLATE EURING No: 6270
Number in Britain: Unavailable
Conservation Status:
European: 3 Concern, most not in Europe; Depleted
Global: (Details)
Status in UK: (A)  Former Breeder, Passage Visitor
Subspecies: niger, surinamensis (V) recorded in Britain (of 2 subsp. in the world)
Length: 23 cm Wingspan: 66 cm Weight: M/F: 73 g    
Scientific name from: Gr.: khelidon=swallow + -ios=like and L.: niger=shining black
World Distribution: BREEDS: Europe, n&c Asia, North America, WINTERS: tropical Africa, Central & n South Americas
Habitat: Marshes, wet grassland, in winter seacoast & estuaries
Diet: Summer: mostly insects; Winter: mostly surface fish, will pursue insects like Swallow
TitBit: This delicate marsh tern once nested in in Britain large colonies, the sound of which could be deafening, but these disappeared as wetland areas, particularly the East Anglian Fens, were drained.  
Identification Tips:
  Images from IBC or search flickr
  Videos from IBC
  Sound from xeno-canto
Crossley ID photos

Population and Distribution

Population Trend: No population trend available
Distribution: Atlas Mapstore   
British Population Size:
    Passage: . individuals
    First Record: 1544
    First Breeding Record: Cambridgeshire/Norfolk (after extinct 1884) 1966
    Conservation Status: AMBER because Species of European Concern,
   Previous Assessments: 2002-2007 GREEN     1996-2001 GREEN  
   Races of Concern: niger AMBER (European Concern)
Habitat Occupancy (in the Breeding Season):
    No habitat data from BBS
European Population Size:
    Summer: 33 to 70 thousand pairs
Population Assesment from Birds in Europe
Distribution in Europe mapped by the EBCC Atlas
Listed on the Appendices/Schedules of: WCA(I), WBD(I), Bern(III), Bonn(II*), AEWA
Survey Results:

Breeding and Survival

Egg Size: 35 x 25 mm Egg Weight: 11.4 g (of which 5 % is shell)
Number of Nest Records: 0
Clutch Size: 3 eggs
Incubation: 21- 22 days   by the: Female (occ. Male)
Fledging: 19 - 25days as: Semi-precocial, downy
First Clutches Laid: Does not breed in Britain, or too few Nest Records
Number of Broods: 1
Number Ringed: Annual Totals
Adult Survival: No data
Juvenile Survival: No data
Age at First Breeding: Typical Lifespan: No data
Maximum Recorded Age: Too few birds ringed
Read a summary of Ringing Recoveries


Ring Size: B+
Wing Length Adult: Insufficient Data
Juvenile: Insufficient Data
Male: Insufficient Data
Female: Insufficient Data
Weight Adult: Insufficient Data
Juvenile: Insufficient Data
Male: Insufficient Data
Female: Insufficient Data

Other Names

Gaelic: SteÓrnag-dhubh Welsh: Corswennol Ddu
Danish: Sortterne Dutch: Zwarte stern
Finnish: Mustatiira French: Guifette noire
German: Trauerseeschwalbe Hungarian: Kormos szerko
Icelandic: Kol■erna Irish: Geabhrˇg Dhubh
Italian: Mignattino Norwegian: Svartterne
Polish: Rybitwa czarna Portuguese: Gaivina-preta
Spanish: Fumarel com˙n Swedish: Svarttńrna
Local Names: Carr Swallow, Blue Darr

For More Information...

Books and Monographs:
   Cabot, D. & Nisbet, I. 2013 Terns Collins, London [598.616 CAB]
See Also:
Find scientific papers on Google Scholar or Scirus by clicking the icon
Wikipedia entry
HBW account (subscription required)
BirdLife species page
Recent sightings and information from BirdGuides
All About Birds (from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology)