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Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Black Tern



Awaiting image for this species



Black Tern

(Marsh Tern)

Chlidonias niger


  • Black Tern
  • Chlidonias niger
  • UK: Former Breeder, Passage Visitor
  • UK: BTO do not give a figure for UK numbers. RSPB figure for passage 'hundreds'
  • WI: Rare visitor (30 or less records) TBC
  • Breeding: Lays 3 eggs in nest on floating vegetation in inland waters. Europe, Asia, North America
  • Winters: Tropical Africa, South America
  • Habitat: Marshes, lakes, wet grassland, (migration seacoast & estuaries)
  • Diet: Does not dive. Forages whilst flying, by dipping down to water's surface. Summer mostly insects, Winter, mostly small fish. Also chases insects in flight
  • A small tern (25cm, 9-10in length). Summer adult: predominantly black plumage. Black head & body. Grey wings, back & tail. Dark legs & bill. Autumn adult grey upperparts, white below and distinctive black head markings.
  • Listen to a Black Tern (RSPB site)
    Max recorded age 21yrs
  • Similar birds: White-winged Black Tern


The Black Tern was once a common colonial breeder in the UK, but the breeding population disappeared when much of the marshland was drained.


Black Tern records in the Western Isles

Rare visitor (30 or less records) TBC

The chart below shows how abundant the Black Tern is during a month or when you are more likely to see it.














(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)



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