LIFER Black tern

Black tern 1 _350_MdCG
Black tern (Chlidonias niger) in flight, note the black shoulder spot.

Rare visitor

Slowly but surely the number of terns are getting smaller. The breeding season, of the species breeding on Curacao is over, youngsters are into full studying mode and both adults and youngsters of some species will group together before going away to their feeding grounds for the coming months, before returning to our shores in late February and March to start the breeding process again.

Sometimes we have the luck of encountering a rare tern visitor on the island, like we did with the Gull-billed tern last month. In September we got another visitor as well, and a personal LIFER; a rare stop over migrant called the Black tern. This species was last seen on Curacao on September 3 1971 in the area of Schottegat. No other records are known for this species on the island. My colleague Curacao Backyard Birding discovered the bird on Monday September 3, exactly 47 years after it was last seen on the island.

Black tern 2 _350_MdCG
Black tern on the left and juvenile Common tern on the right.

These pictures was taken on September 4 2018, exactly 47 years and 1 day after the last record.

The North American birds of this rare migrant breed across southern Canada and northern US, and will migrate to northern South America for the winter months. When they go South they will lose much of the black colour. (2 more pictures in the comments)

Black tern – zwarte stern – Meuchi pretu
BB Curacao, September 4 2018

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