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Conservation status: Amber

A small tern with an all-black head and body, contrasting with grey wings, back and tail in spring; autumn birds have grey upperparts, white underparts and distinctive black head markings. Feeds by dipping down and picking food from the surface of water. Has occasionally bred in the UK.

Illustrations

Overview

Latin name

Chlidonias niger

Family

Terns (Sternidae)

Where to see them

Freshwater lakes, gravel pits and reservoirs, almost anywhere.

When to see them

Best looked for in May, on spring passage, and from July to September on autumn passage.

What they eat

Insects, invertebrates and fish.

Population

EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
83-170,000 pairs--Hundreds

Distribution

In the UK
On passage, over lakes
In Europe
From Denmark, south to Spain, east to Russia
Worldwide
N and S America, Europe, Africa, Asia

Audio

Niels Krabbe, Xeno-canto