Coastal Wetlands

Black Tern Conservation

Saving one of the Great Lakes' most iconic species
Black Tern at Tawas Lake Photo: Roger Eriksson
Coastal Wetlands

Black Tern Conservation

Saving one of the Great Lakes' most iconic species

Facing population declines up to 90% over the past 40 years, Black Terns (Chlidonias niger) have an uncertain future in the Great Lakes region. Audubon is working to ensure our Great Lakes coastal areas play an important role in safeguarding critical breeding grounds for these elegant and distinctive terns.

Thanks to budding partnerships across Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin, we are learning more about the factors driving the decline of the Black Tern and investing in the protection of its breeding grounds. Audubon has launched restoration projects at two major breeding sites in Michigan where colonies are suffering from habitat degradation due to invasive plants, illegal off-road vehicle use, loss of floating nest mats to non-native Mute Swans (Cygnus olor), severe weather events, and changing water levels.

Furthering the science that allows us to better understand why we are seeing such dramatic declines in Black Tern populations and investing in the conservation of important breeding areas of these graceful birds, will help ensure a viable future for the Black Tern.

Audubon's Black Tern Conservation project is made possible thanks to the tremendous dedication of several volunteers, led by Randy Kling who has worked on the project since 2013. We have also galvanized a powerful partnership with the following organizations to ensure a healthy future for Black Terns in the Great Lakes: 

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Detroit Audubon
  • Michigan Department of Natural Resources
  • Detroit Zoo
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program
  • Michigan Audubon 

Ways You Can Help