Black Tern in Prince Edward County: Late June 2022

Terns are in the same family as gulls, Laridae, but in a separate subfamily, Sterninae. Generally smaller than gulls, with straight pointed bill, relatively long and narrow wings and short legs. Most species feed exclusively on small fish captured by plunge-diving head-first from the air into the water often beginning in a hovering position. (Sibley Birds)

While working as a naturalist on Antarctic cruises, I became familiar with Antarctic Terns.

Antarctic terns
Antarctic Terns
Antarctic Tern (photo: newzealandbirds online)

Amazingly, some Arctic Terns fly all the way to the Antarctic to spend January, February and March (Antarctic summer).

go2moon.com
Arctic Tern
Arctic Tern (photo: audubon field guide)

In the Toronto area, we see many Common Terns in the warmer months.

Common Tern
Common Tern

Common Tern
Common Tern
Common Terns

Caspian Terns are also present.

Caspian Terns
Caspian Tern
Caspian Tern
Caspian Terns and juvenile Herring Gull

I have never seen a Black Tern in the Toronto area but used to see them in Tiny Marsh near Wasaga Beach. Not in recent years however.

So it was exciting to see one over a wetland in Prince Edward County.

Black Tern
Black Tern
Black Tern

Black Terns are usually in small groups and feed on small fish insects and other aquatic prey. Unlike most terns, they do not frequently plunge-dive but catch their prey while in flight.

Black Tern
Black Tern
Black Tern
Black Tern
Black Tern
Black Tern
Black Tern
Black Tern

NATURE POETRY

How softly runs the afternoon
Beneath the billowy clouds of June!     – Charles Hanson Towne (1877-1949)

Miles Hearn

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