Subfamily STERNINAE

The Terns, which constitute this subfamily, are more lightly built birds than the Gulls and have a different flight; moreover they are to a far less degree swimming birds, for they rarely settle on the water; when they alight, it is generally on land (Anous is an exception). They subsist chiefly on living prey, especially fishes, which they capture by darting upon them; many Terns also feed on Crustacea or various floating animals that they scoop up from the sea, and others live to a great extent on insects.

The bill is straight, generally slender, the mandibles of about equal length, with acute tips ; nostrils linear; tail as a rule distinctly forked, often exceeding the closed wings, which are long; legs and feet, with but few exceptions, small.

Key to the Genera.

a. Outermost tail-feathers longest.
a1. Tail scarcely forked, short, less than half as long as wing; webs between toes deeply emarginate …………………………HYDROCHELIDON, p. 307.
b1. Tail distinctly forked but short, scarcely more than 1/3 wing; bill and legs stout
and strong; bill half as long as tail or more; webs between toes fully developed …………………………HYDROPROGNE, p. 309.
c1. Tail distinctly forked, with the outer rectrices more or less prolonged, and
generally more than half as long as wing; bill moderate; webs well developed…………………………STERNA, p. 310.
b. Outer tail-feathers short, 3rd or 4th from outside longest; plumage dark…………………………ANOUS, p. 325.

Terns are known as Tehari, Ganga-chil, and Mach-louka in Hindi; Ramadasu and Samdrapukaha in Telugu; Kivi by the Gonds; Liniya and Mutheru Kerella by the Cingalese; Kadal Kuruvi by Ceylon Tamuls; and as Zin-yan and Myit-htway in Burmese.

BookTitle: 
The Fauna Of British India, Including Ceylon And Burma-birds
Reference: 
Blanford, William Thomas, ed. The Fauna of British India: Including Ceylon and Burma. Vol. 4. 1898.
Title in Book: 
Subfamily STERNINAE
Book Author: 
William Thomas Blanford
Year: 
1898
Page No: 
310
Volume: 
Vol. 4
id: 
2158

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