Black Tern

Chlidonias niger

Black Terns breed in freshwater marshes across most of Canada, the northern United States and much of Europe and western Asia. Some scientists believe the North American subspecies (C. n. surinamensis) is a separate species. In the Americas, these birds usually spend winters in northern South America. C. n. niger breeds in Eurasia from Spain and Norway in the west, to Mongolia in the east.

Capturing images of Black Terns in flight is a tricky proposition. Their movements are so airy and buoyant; they easily pop out of the frame. If observation is the only goal, it is exceptionally entertaining to watch the birds forage on the wing.

Studies show that since 1966 the population of Black Terns has declined by 2% a year, reducing the overall populations by 57% between that time and 2014. Factors such as loss of habitat, (draining wetlands for agriculture) and pesticide runoff seem to be the likely causes of the decline.

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