Tawas Lake Black Terns

Black Tern

Black Tern

One of the summer field trips that the AVA intended to host in July was a visit to Tawas Lake to try to view the Black Terns there. Unfortunately, the low lake level has prevented getting anywhere near them. Here is a brief description from AVA members Sue and Larry and a number of photos (click on any of them for a larger image) taken by them on their outing:

terns2-webterns3-webRecently,  Sue and I asked a friend who owns a pontoon boat to take us to the area in Tawas Lake  where most of the Black Terns seem to ‘hang out’.  We were investigating the possibility of offering a field trip for our Audubon members so they might observe the terns and learn about their behavior.

terns4-webterns5-webWe’ve had to postpone the field trip till next spring because the water depth has become so shallow that even with only 4 people on the pontoon boat (we had 12 people tell us they wanted to attend this field trip) , it scraped bottom in many places along the way from our dock to the tern nesting area.

terns6-webterns7-webI took a lot of photos of the terns as we watched them. The photo quality isn’t great,  but the photos document interesting behavior.


terns8-webThe terns spent a lot of time flying low over the water, then diving to the surface, but rarely going beneath the water.  We speculated they were foraging, but what was the prey???? Minnows, bugs,????  The birds fly so fast.  They don’t allow close human observation, and it’s impossible to see what they’ve picked up with only our eyes.


terns9-webSome of my photos offer possible answers to the question.  What do you think?  I’ve attached some photos of Black Terns w/o prey….Photos 1-4, and 6 as a ‘baseline’ from which to compare to the remaining photos. Photos 4, 7, 8 and 9 show terns with prey.

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