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Common name Black tern
Scientific name Chlidonias niger
Type Seabirds
Status Migrator

Medium sized seabird (approx 28 cm or 11 in). Dark plumage in general, in black and grey tones. In summer only the lower part of the belly and tail have white tones. Dark grey tail, wings and back; black head, breast and anterior part of the belly. In winter the white colour extends to the head, breast and belly, leaving the black reduced to a posterior cap. Light gray toned back, wings and tail. Dark spot on the neck, like a semi-closed collar. Short and wide wings. Short and slightly forked tail (less than in other terns). Legs with short and reddish tarsi and rufous bill, thin and not very long.


Wetlands and Marine environment

Where it lives

Species linked to sweet or brackish wetlands with a depth between one and two metres (roughly from 3 to 7 ft) and plenty of vegetation on the margins. Present in both inland lagoons and in coastal and littoral wetlands.

How it lives

Bird that can be observed in the province only during its migratory passage. It breeds in colonies in northern Europe and sparsely and very locally in some wetlands of the Mediterranean coast. Floating nests. One annual laying in May. The Black Tern feeds on small fish, invertebrates and amphibians that it captures directly on the surface of the water, without coming to hover, dive or plunge as other terns do.

Where it can be seen in Malaga

It is watched in the province of Malaga especially during the autumn passage, on the coast, sometimes on the beach itself. It is a little frequent species in Malaga. Present at the mouth of the Guadalhorce and sometimes in the Fuente de Piedra lagoon.

Curious facts

The name of this species refers to its dark plumage, little frequent in the seabirds of Malaga, which helps to identify it. Its typical leisurely flight, butterfly-like, is also a great aid. In fact, its Latin name refers to its resemblance to a black ("niger") swallow ("chelidon").

Similar birds
Wintering Summer Resident Migration