Black tern nest-site fidelity in unstable habitat: preliminary study

Keywords: Chlidonias niger, ringing, nest-site fidelity, return rate


We investigated the adult Black Tern (Chlidonias niger) return rate and nest-site fidelity in unstable habitats in the Kaniv reservoir (Middle Dnieper, Ukraine) where a regular weather impact such as heavy rains and storms leads to a destruction of nesting colonies. 278 adult birds were tagged with colored rings in 12 Black Tern colonies during the nesting season in 2012-2019.  44 Black Tern birds were resighted or recaptured in eight colonies. The return rate was 15.8 % and it declined rapidly in 3 years. 29 returning terns were noted within the same colonies where the birds had been tagged initially, 15 ones were seen in other colonies, but the majority of them were found no farther than 2 km from the initial colony. The site fidelity mean rate was 66 %. Olgin colony showed a high nest-site fidelity rate, while it was much lower in others. Such variations occurred because of the loss of first clutches caused by unfavorable weather conditions. In the middle of May, strong waves, storms and heavy rains regularly destroyed nesting colonies located in habitats poorly protected by water plant vegetation. Terns relocated their colonies to build new nesting clutches but commonly not farther then 2 km from their first colonies.


Atamas', N. S. 2011. Changes in community structure of Chlidonias terns in connection with macrophyte communities transformation on water reservoirs of Middle Dnieper river. Bird ecology: species, communities, interrelations. Proceedings of the meeting commemorating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Nikolay N. Somov (1861-1923) 1-4 December 2011, Kharkov, Ukraine, 301-315 [In Russian]

Bokotey, A. A., Dzyubenko, N. V., Horban, I. M., Kuchinska, I. V., Basta, A.-T. V., Pohranychnyy ,V. A., Buchko, V. V., Senyk ,M. A. 2010.Breeding avifauna of the Upper Basin of the Dniester. Lviv. 1-440 [In Ukrainian].

Bried, J., Jouventin, P. 2001. Site and mate choice in seabirds: an evolutionary approach. In: Schreiber, E. A., Burger, J. eds. Biology of Marine Birds. CRC Press, Boca Raton, 263-306.

Coulson, J. C. 2016. A review of philopatry in seabirds and comparisons with other waterbird species. Waterbirds, 39 (3,) 229-240.

Devlin, C. M., Diamond, A. W., Kress, S. W., Hall, C. S., Welch, L. 2008. Breeding dispersal and survival of Arctic terns Sterna paradisaea nesting in the Gulf of Maine. Auk, 125 (4), 850-858.

Dzyubenko, N. V. 2005. Features of temporary structure of Black Tern settlements in the basin of the Upper Dniester. Nauk. zapysky Derzh. pryrod. muzeyu. Lviv, 21, 65-76 [In Ukrainian].

Greenwood, P. J. 1982. The natal and breeding dispersal of birds. Ann. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 13, 1-21

Francesiaz, C., Farine, D., Laforge, C., Bechet, A., Sadoul, N., Besnard, A. 2017. Familiarity drives social philopatry in an obligate colonial breeder with weak interannual breeding-site fidelity. Aminal Behaviour, 124, 125-133.

Ivanova, I. Yu., Dyachenko, T. N., Nabatova, Ye. A. 1999. Landscape and Cenotic Analysis of the Plant Cover of the Kanev Reservoir. Hydrobiological Journal, 35 (2), 26-35 [In Russian].

McNicholl, M. K. 1975. Larid site tenacity and group adherence in relation to habitat.Auk, 92 (1), 98-104.

Meier-Peithmann, W. 2005. Die Trauerseeschwalbe Chlidonias niger in der Elbaue des Hannoverschen wendlandes. die Vogelwelt, 126, 219-225.

Naves, L. C., Monnat, J. Y., Cam, E. 2006. Breeding performance, mate fidelity, and nest site fidelity in a long-lived seabird: behaving against the current? Oikos, 115, 263-276.

Sánchez, J. M., Corbacho, C., Muñoz del Viejo, A., Parejo, D. 2004. Colony-site tenacity and egg crypsis in the gull-billed tern. Waterbirds, 27, 21-30.[0021:CTAECC]2.0.CO;2

Shealer, D. 2007. Population dynamic of Black Terns breeding in Southeasten Wisconsin, 1999-2007. Passenger Pigeon, 69, 471-478.

Stenhouse, I. J., Robertson, G. J. 2005. Philopatry, site tenacity, mate fidelity, and adult survival in Sabine'sgulls. The Condor, 107, 416-423.

Schmidt, K. A. 2001. Site fidelity in habitats with contrasting levels of nest predation and blood parasitism. Evo. Ecol. Res. 3, 633-648.

Switzer, P. V. 1993. Site fidelity in predictable and unpredictable habitats. Evolutionary Ecology, 7 (6), 533-555.

Timchenko, V. M. 2006. Ecological hydrology of the water reservoirs of Dnieper river. Hydrobiological journal, 42 (3), 81-96 [In Russian].

Tims. J., Nisbet, I. C. T., Friar, M. S., Mostello, C., Hatch, J. 2004. Characteristics and performance of common terns in old and newly-established colonies. Waterbirds,27 (3), 321-332.[0321:CAPOCT]2.0.CO;2

Van der Winden, J. 2004. Ringonderzoek aan de Zwarte Stern Chlidonias niger in het Groene Hart. het Vogeljaar, 52 (4), 155-161.

Van der Winden, J., Beintema, A. J., Heemskerk, L. 2004. Habitat-related Black Tern Chlidonias niger breeding success in the Netherlands. Ardea, 92 (1), 53-62.

How to Cite
Atamas, N. S., & TomchenkoО. . V. (2020). Black tern nest-site fidelity in unstable habitat: preliminary study. Zoodiversity, 54(4).