Friday, August 10, 2012

Black Terns: Moulting and Defending

The Black Tern screeches at me © SB.
The Black Terns who watched me pull over beside a Saskatchewan slough today may have thought I had baby birds on my mind.

(I had no thought of nests. I left the car only to try to take pictures of Smartweed, a pink native wildflower.)

Several Black Terns screeched across the water and circled low above my car — and my head — again, and again, and again, their mottled feathers bright in the July sun.

Only when I saw these photographs did I realize that at least one was carrying a large dragonfly in its beak. Food. Perhaps for itself, or for a fledgling.

I first saw Black Terns at this slough several weeks ago, when members of this breeding colony still wore their sleek black and gray distinctive feathers. Already, these terns are moulting, loosing black in belly patches as they change into their winter under-body white.

Black Tern with Dragonfly  © SB

What are these?  Black Terns  
Location: Near a slough, north of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo date: August 10, 2012.  



  1. Your photos are fabulous and that first fella does look a little cranky!

  2. Thanks, Tracy! That first bird was more than a little annoyed with me, so I left quickly! (But, as he insisted on dive-bombing me, I couldn't resist a few shots first.)


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