|Black Terns (Chlidonias niger) gracefully soaring above Tuttle Creek Lake.|
The bird of the week this week is the Black Tern (Chlidonias niger). They are a migrant species that I have enjoyed observing lately. I haven't seen them in their breeding colors, but I like how they look in their non-breeding/juvenile plumage more anyway.
The Black Tern is a medium sized shorebird, slightly smaller than the Ring-billed Gulls (Larus delawarensis) that I normally observe them associated with. In their non-breeding plumage, they are a mostly white bird with dark grey to black on their back and wings and a small peninsula of black behind their eye. They have black bills, legs and feet. The breeding adults sport a fully black body with only small patches of white near the vent and on the underside of the wings. The Black Tern is a common bird in steep decline.
|Black Terns fighting the wind to fly in place.|
Black Terns eat mostly insects and occupy freshwater marshes, where they construct floating nests. Not much information is provided on this bird species on the allaboutbirds.org webpage about their habitat or nesting habits.
According to allaboutbirds.org, the Black Tern populations in North America have been declining by about two percent per year since 1966, causing a total decline of 57% by 2014.
The Black Tern has been a great bird to observe as it flies just above the water and takes little dives every once in a while. They seem to try and use the wind to keep them in place for as long as they can fight it, by flying against the wind and just slightly altering the angle of their bodies to move around. This species is very graceful and adds nice variety to the birds that I am able to observe in my little corner of the world.