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Chlidonias niger

warning Regionally Extinct

The Black Tern is classified as Regionally Extinct (RE). It became extinct subsequent to the drainage of the Hula Lake in the 1950s, and no nesting attempts of the species in Israel have been observed since then (it is now seen only as a passage migrant). In the previous edition of the Red Book (2002), it was classified as regionally extinct (RE).
RE Current Regional Assessment | RE Previous Regional Assessment | LC World Assessment

Habitats Wetland Thickets
Presence In Israel Summer Breeder, Migrant
Nesting In Israel Past Breeder
Migration Types Long Range
Zoography Zones Mediterranean
Landscape Formations Swamps, Wetlands, Freshwater Bodies
Vegetation Formations Wetland Thickets
Vegetation Densities Low
Nest Locations Wetland Thickets
Diet Types Invertebrate, Fish
Foraging Grounds Water
Body Sizes Small (up to 500g)
Threat Factors Wetland Drainage & Pollution

The Black Tern is a relatively small, delicate tern. Like most marsh terns, its flight is nimble and lively, and it frequently collects small insects over the water. Summer plumage is almost completely black. It has long narrow wings, a short tail and a narrow, delicate bill.

The Black Tern is a relatively rare passage migrant, more common in spring (a few tens) and an extremely rare non-breeding summer visitor in the Northern Valleys. Formerly nested in the Hula Valley; about 20 pairs nested on the northern shores of the Hula Lake until 1956. Breeding ceased subsequent to the drainage of the lake (Paz 1986, Shirihai 1996).

The Black Tern breeds in marshes, lakes and ponds surrounded by thickets of submersed and floating vegetation. The nest is built on floating vegetation or on the ground near the water.

No efforts have been made to restore the Black Tern as a breeder to Israel. The probability of the species returning to breed without specific restoration efforts is low, as there are no large water bodies with submersed and floating vegetation thickets.

The Black Tern became extinct as a breeder in Israel during the drainage of the Hula Lake, in the 1950s. The probability of the species returning to nest in Israel naturally is estimated to be low.

The Black Tern has a broad Holarctic range. It inhabits shallow, clear inland water bodies. It feeds mainly on small fish and a variety of aquatic invertebrates. Most of its populations are migratory.

  • פז, ע. 1986. עופות. מתוך אלון, ע. (עורך), החי והצומח של ארץ ישראל. כרך 6. הוצאת משרד הביטחון, ישראל.

Distribution maps

The maps presented here provide visual information on the distribution of species in Israel in the past and present, and the changes in occupancy and nesting density during the comparison period. For further reading

Relative Abundance 2010-2020

Breeding density values as calculated from observation records and expert opinions.

Relative Abundance 1980-1990

Breeding density values are based mainly on the book Birds of Israel (Shirihai 1996).

Occupancy difference 1990-2020

A map that expresses differences in the breeding distribution between the evaluation periods (1980-1990 versus 2010-2020). Negative value - species previously present but is currently absent, positive value - species has not been recorded previously and is currently present, zero - no change in occupancy.

Relative abundance difference 1990-2020

A map that reflects the changes in the relative abundance of the species between the evaluation periods (1980-1990 versus 2010-2020). Negative values - decline in abundance, positive values - increase in abundance, zero - no change in abundance.

Red number

IUCN category

() districts
% of protected sites

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