Black Tern

Black Terns are social seabirds with a thin, pointed bill and slightly forked tail. During the breeding season, black terns display dark gray backs and wings, black chests, and pale gray undertail coverts. Nonbreeding adults are mostly gray with a white underbody and head, showing a dark gray mark behind the eye.
SCIENTIFIC NAME
Chlidonias niger
CLASSIFICATION
Bird
LIFE SPAN
2-10 Years
SIZE
9-14 ” | 0.06-0.12 lbs
STATE CONSERVATION STATUS
  • Priority Species
FEDERAL CONSERVATION STATUS
Least Concern
GAME STATUS
Non-Game
GAME TYPE
None
  1. Washoe
  2. Humboldt
  3. Pershing
  4. Churchill
  5. Mineral
  6. Lyon
  7. Douglas
  8. Carson City
  9. Storey
  1. Elko
  2. Lander
  3. Eureka
  4. White Pine
  1. Esmeralda
  2. Nye
  3. Lincoln
  4. Clark

Habitat & Range

Black Terns migrate throughout the entire state of Nevada. They have been recorded breeding in the extreme northern portion of the state.

  • Desert Playas
  • Lakes and reservoirs
  • Marsh

Threats

  • Habitat Degradation
  • Human Development
  • Invasive Species

Natural History

Black Terns forage along the water’s surface of marshes and flooded fields in search of small fish or insects. They are not the type of birds to dive into the water, and instead skim the surface for small fish living just below the surface, or insects flying just above the water. Males often fly with fish in their mouth to attract females. They breed in colonies, often establishing nests of two to four eggs in floating vegetation. Juvenile Black Terns will remain in their wintering habitat for their first year, not making the migration to breeding grounds until their second year.

Fun Facts

The oldest recorded Black Tern was more than eleven years old.