A small, graceful, black and silver bird, the Black Tern has relatively broad wings and a short tail that is only slightly forked. In breeding plumage, it has a black body and head, silvery gray wings and a white vent. The legs and bill are also black. In non-breeding plumage, the Black Tern has a white belly and breast. The black on its head recedes, leaving dark sideburns, and is replaced with a white face. The legs are orange. Juveniles appear similar to adults in non-breeding plumage, but the gray mantle is mottled.