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Marsh tern

Marsh terns
Black-fronted tern (above)
Chlidonias albostriatus
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Laridae
Genus: Chlidonias
Rafinesque, 1822
Type species
Sterna melanops[1]
Rafinesque, 1822
  • Chlidonias niger
  • Chlidonias leucopterus
  • Chlidonias hybrida
  • Chlidonias albostriatus

The name marsh tern refers to terns of the genus Chlidonias, which are typically found in freshwater marshes, rather than coastal locations. The genus name Chlidonias is from Ancient Greek khelidonios, "swallow-like", from khelidon, "swallow".[2]


There are four species:

Image Common Name Scientific name Distribution
Black tern Chlidonias niger (or nigra) Europe, Western Asia and North America.
White-winged tern or white-winged black tern Chlidonias leucopterus (or leucoptera) Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.
Whiskered tern Chlidonias hybrida (or hybridus) Europe and the Palearctic (northwestern Africa and central and southern Europe to southeastern Siberia, eastern China and south to Pakistan and northern India)
Black-fronted tern Chlidonias albostriatus (formerly Sterna albostriata)[3] New Zealand

Notice the hesitation in the gender of the epithet of the scientific names, as they are usually masculine (albostriatus, leucopterus or niger), but in the case of the whiskered tern is mostly used as feminine (hybrida), maybe from the influence of the previous gender used, Sterna.

The black-bellied tern (Sterna acuticauda) and the white-cheeked tern (Sterna repressa) might also be placed in Chlidonias.


  1. ^ "Laridae". The Trust for Avian Systematics. Retrieved 2023-07-26.
  2. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 102. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  3. ^ Bridge, E. S.; Jones, A. W. & Baker, A. J. (2005). A phylogenetic framework for the terns (Sternini) inferred from mtDNA sequences: implications for taxonomy and plumage evolution Archived 2006-07-20 at the Wayback Machine Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 35: 459–469.

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Marsh tern
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