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black tern

Chlidonias niger

Description:

Adult are 25 cm (9.75 in) long, with a wing span 61 cm (24 in), and weigh 62 g (2.2 oz). They have short dark legs and a short, weak-looking black bill, measuring 27–28 mm, nearly as long as the head. The bill is long, slender, and looks slightly decurved. They have a dark grey back, with a white forewing, black head, neck (occasionally suffused with gray in the adult) and belly, black or blackish-brown cap (which unites in color with the ear coverts, forming an almost complete hood), and a light brownish-grey, 'square' tail. The face is white. There is a big dark triangular patch in front of the eye, and a broadish white collar in juveniles. There are grayish-brown smudges on the ides of the white breast, a downwards extension of the plumage of the upperparts. These marks vary in size and are not conspicuous. In non-breeding plumage, most of the black, apart from the cap, is replaced by grey. The plumage of the upperparts is drab, with pale feather-edgings. The rump is brownish-gray.

Habitat:

freshwater marshes across most of Canada, the northern United States and much of Europe and western Asia. They usually nest either on floating material in a marsh or on the ground very close to water, laying 2-4 eggs. North American Black terns migrate to the coasts of northern South America, some to the open ocean. Old World birds winter in Africa.

Notes:

•The Black Tern is very social. It breeds in loose colonies and usually forages, roosts,and migrates in flocks of a few to more than 100 birds, occasionally up to tens of thousands.

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SusanEllison
Spotted by
SusanEllison

Texas City, Texas, USA

Spotted on Aug 19, 2013
Submitted on Aug 19, 2013

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