Black Tern

photo by NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Chlidonias niger
L 9 3/4″ (25 cm) W 24″ (61 cm).

Song or calls:
High sharp “kip”, and slurred “k-seek.”

Description: Sexes similar.
Breeding adults are entirely dark except under the tail. Slate gray above and black below with a black head; white undertail coverts; black bill; and dark red legs. Non-breeding birds are white below with a dark gray mantle; dark ear patch extends from dark crown.

Black Tern NE estimated range
Habitat: Migrants can be found on a variety of aquatic habitats, and sometimes can be found foraging well away from water over grasslands. Breeding occurs on marshes.

Where in Nebraska: Abundant spring and fall migrant across the state. Common summer resident primarily in the Sandhills. Breeds in Nebraska.

Field Notes: Breeders prefer marshes that have a combination of open water and emergent vegetation. 

Black Tern - photo by Phil Swanson Black Tern - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)