(2097) Anous stolidus pileatus.
THE PHILIPPINE NODDY.
Sterna pileata Scopoli, del Flor. et Faun., Insubr., ii, p. 92 (1786) (Philippines). Anous stolidus. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 325.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Forehead pure white, passing into grey on the crown, brownish-grey on the neck and finally into chocolate-brown on the upper plumage; outer webs of primaries and the tail blackish-brown; lores next the eye and round the upper half of the eye black; below the eye whitish; lower cheeks chocolate-brown.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; bill, legs and feet black or blackish-brown.
Measurements. Wing 271 to 300 mm.; tail 152 to 176 mm.; tarsus about 24 to 25 ram.; culmen 35 to 42 mm.
Young birds are a rather paler brown and have no grey cap.
Nestling in down. Sooty-brown above and on the throat and breast, paling to sooty-white on the abdomen.
Distribution. Japanese Islands, Philippines to Laccadives, the Burmese coasts, Nicobars etc.
Nidification. Within our limits the only record of these birds breeding is that of Hume, who found it in immense flocks on the Cheebaniani Reef of the Laccadives in February. The birds had then just commenced laying and Hume obtained eight eggs which he describes as being like those of Sterna fuscata but more brightly coloured. Sir W. J. F. Williamson obtained a fine series on one of the small islands in the Gulf of Siam and these, laid in May, are like all other Noddy's eggs much less richly marked than those of the Sooty Terns. The ground is white, sometimes faintly tinged with grey, stone-colour, greenish or pink but in none at all rich or deep. The markings generally consist of sparse blotches and spots of dark reddish-brown with secondary markings of lavender-grey. The blotches are generally more numerous at the larger end and in a few eggs are comparatively bold and handsome. Only one egg is laid on the bare rocks, with no nest, quite in the open. Twenty-seven eggs average 51.8 x 35.8 mm.: maxima 55.2 X 35.0 and 53.1 x 37.2 mm.; minima 49.5 x 34.8 mm.
Habits. The Noddies are oceanic birds, only frequenting land regularly during the breeding-season and then selecting, for the most part, rocky reefs and small islands or the wilder more broken areas on the large islands. Their flight is in appearance much slower and more lethargic than those of the Terns; they wheel about more lazily, seldom, if ever, hover and then plunge after their fish prey, but settle on the sea, feeding on small surface mollusca, dead fish and floating oddments. During the breeding-season they and their young feed entirely on the small Sepida cephalapods which form the food of the Sooty Terns.