214 Black Tern
(Chlidonias niger)


22-26cm. Adult summer: All-black head and body, rather uniform dark grey upperparts, white undertail, and dark legs and bill; head and underparts mottled or patched with white on moulting adults in spring (before May) and summer/autumn (white feathers on head already appearing in June). Adult winter (head and body plumage fully acquired September onwards). Much as juvenile, but upperparts plain grey, lacking scaliness, and outer 5-7 primaries darker than rest.


The Black Tern is a colonial breeder of alkali lakes, permanently flooded shallow marshes and sedimentation ponds in small fluctuating numbers. Breeds primarily in the Great Plain, especially in the Hortobágy, on the Bihar Plain, in the Nagy-Sárrét, in the Bodrogköz and on the alkali lakes of Kiskunság, but has several regular breeding areas in the Transdanubia (Dinnyés-Fertő, Rétszilas Fishponds, Kis-Balaton, Lake Fertő) too. Its migration in spring takes place between mid-April and mid-May while in autumn from early August to mid-September. During these periods usually seen near fishponds, marshes and flooded areas.

214 Black Tern pic

© Graphics by Szabolcs Kókay

Source: 1) Lovászi Péter (editor): Javasolt különleges madárvédelmi területek Magyarországon, Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület, 2002; 2) BirdLife International:IUCN Red List for birds. Species factsheet; 3) Králl Attila, Nagy Károly: Fontos Madárélőhelyek Magyarországon (Területek, kritériumok és minősítő fajok) MME Monitoring Központ, 2007; 4) Szabolcs Kókay bird illustrations; 5) www.hungarianbirdwatching.com bird descriptions and checklists, 2004-2012; 6) Lars Svensson et al.: Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe 2nd Edition, Harper Collins, 2010; 7) MME Nomenclator Bizottság: Nomenclator avium Hungariae. An annotated list of the birds of Hungary. Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület, 2008