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Comparing

Species:

Black Tern (Chlidonias niger)

White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus)

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Length (cm):
22-24
20-23
Wingspan (cm):
64-68
63-67
Weight (gram):
60-86
50-75
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:

Breeding adult easily identified by white tail/rump combined with jet black under wing coverts and silvery upper wing. Immature with brownish back contrasting with pale, silvery upper wings and pale rump. Broad white collar, and lacks dark breast patch of immature Black Tern. Adult winter most liable to confusion with other terns, but upperparts much paler than Black Tern. Contrasting dark outer primaries and secondaries to rest of wing. Often retains some black under coverts even in winter which is diagnostic if seen. Slightly more compact than Black Tern and often recalls Little gull in shape. Bill noticeably shorter and thinner than in Whiskered Tern.

Sound:

Mostly silent away from breeding ground. Most diagnostic call a dry, rolling "krrrrrr-ta-ta" where the rolling is followed by one or two accentuated syllables, or just simply "krrrrrr". Used in excitement.

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

CC

CC-sound:Marco Dragonetti, Licence,Link.

CC-photo:Dick Hoek, Licence,Link.

CC-photo:Lars Buckx, 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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Several different sounds of the species

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