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Species:

Black Tern (Chlidonias niger)

Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida)

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Length (cm):
22-24
23-25
Wingspan (cm):
64-68
74-78
Weight (gram):
60-86
79-94
Size group:
Crow-size
Crow-size

Main Texts:

Appearance:

Unmistakable in breeding plumage, but otherwise easily confused with other marsh terns. Breeding plumage with black head and belly, but pale underwing and grey rump. When in immature and winter plumage it differs from Common and Arctic tern by smaller size and short, moderately forked tail, and from other marsh terns by slimmer body and wings (compared to White-winged tern), and relatively long, thin bill. Both immature and adult winter show dark front edge of wing, and characteristic dark shoulder patch at wing base. Back is dark in immature birds. Grey rump in all plumages. Flight usually different from Sterna-terns, with erratic dives for no apparent reason, and "aimless" change of direction. Note that when foraging over saltwater, flight becomes more Sterna-like.

Sound:

Moderately vocal. Flight call a more or less clear "kleck, or a disyllabic "klee-ake" with accented first syllable. Sometimes slightly rolling "klirr-eke", but never as much as in White-winged Tern. Also a slightly harsher "kreek", but not as raspy as in Whiskered Tern.

Flight call:

Error loading Flash for sound!
See sound file


Distribution:

Wikipedia: map (se also Xeno-canto below)

Ecology:

Birdlife ecology

Links:

Observation.org Latest observations

Video IBC

Image search Flickr NB! May give other species

Sound search at Xeno-canto

Featherbase

CC

CC-sound:Ad Postma, Licence,Link.

Appearance:

Largest marsh tern. Liable to confusion with Sterna terns due to black cap, in addition to other marsh terns. All marsh terns (Chlidonias) differs from Sterna by lack of tail streamers, short tail with shallow fork, shorter wings and stiffer flight. Marsh terns don't plunge-dive for food but picks from surface (though Whiskered Tern may belly-plunge), mostly in fresh water. Adult Whiskered Tern easily told from other marsh terns by distinct black cap contrasting to white cheeks and throat. Underwing pale with diffuse dark trailing edge. Belly distinctly darker than Common- and Arctic Tern, but beware of variation in both species. Bill dark blood red. Adult winter: Very pale with no distinct markings except for ill-defined black mask stretching from eye to eye across nape. Forehead white and with crown white speckles. Bill black. Immature: Yellowish brown saddle with coarse dark pattern, though these are moulted in early autumn. Usually lacks dark carpal bar and cap ill-defined. Whiskered Tern generally stockier built than other marsh terns. Both immatures and adult winter show grey rump (different from Common, Arctic and White-Winged), and bill is dagger-shaped (most apparent in males).

Sound:

Contact call freely used and fairly distinct: An extremely hoarse, and rasping "krreek" in various moods. Timbre comparable to Corncrake. Sometimes uttered in stuttering series "kr-kr-kr-kr-kr".

Contact call:

Error loading Flash for sound!
See sound file


Distribution:

Xeno-canto: map

Ecology:

Birdlife ecology

Links:

Observation.org Latest observations

Video IBC

Image search Flickr NB! May give other species

Sound search at Xeno-canto

Featherbase

CC

CC-sound:Patrik Åberg, Licence,Link.

CC-photo:Jurrien van Deijk, Licence,Link.

CC-photo:Geert Moris, Licence,Link.

CC-photo:Michel Kapoen, Licence,Link.

CC-photo:Ria Vogels, Licence,Link.

Similar species (image):
Similar species (sound):
Silhouette Group:
Gull-like
Silhouette
Gull-like
Silhouette

Several different images of the species

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Image MediaImage Media
Image MediaImage Media
Image Media
Image MediaImage Media
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Image MediaImage Media

Several different sounds of the species

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