1110. BLACK TERN.
Hydrochelidon nigra (Linn.), Syst. Nat. i. p. 227 (1766) ; (Naum.), x. p. 189, Taf 256 ; (Hewitson), ii. p. 488, pl. cxxxv. ; (Gould), B. of E. v. pl. 422 ; id. B. of Gt. Brit. v. pl. 75 ; Dresser, viii. p. 327, pl. 592 ; Saunders, Cat. B. Br. Mus. xxv. p. 17 ; id. Manual, p. 633 ; Ridgway, p. 46 ; Lilford, vi. p. i. pl. i. ; S. fissipes, Lath. Ind. Orn. ii. p. 810 (1790 nec. Linn.)
Guifette noire, French ; Gaivina, Ferreirinho, Portug. ; Fumarell, Span. ; Mignattino, Ital. ; Schwarze-Seeschwalbe, German ; Zwarte-Zeezwaluw, Dutch ; Sort-Terne, Dan. and Norweg. ; Svart-Tarna, Swed. ; Tschernaya-martyschka, Russ.
Male ad. (Spain). Grown, nape, and hind neck glossy black ; upper parts and tail plumbeous blue-grey ; quills darker plumbeous grey ; sides of head, throat, and under parts plumbeous black ; under wing and tail-coverts white, the former tinged with grey ; bill purplish black ; legs blackish brown with a purplish tinge ; iris dark brown. Culmen 1.3, wing 8.0, tail 3.25, only moderately forked, tarsus 0.65 inch. Sexes alike. The young bird has the forehead and hind neck white, the upper parts brownish ashy marked with light brown, the fore back blackish and the under parts white, marked with blackish on the sides of the breast, and the adult in winter is similar, but the upper parts are clearer grey and the markings on the sides of the breast are absent.
Hab. Europe generally, north to about 60o N. lat., now only a rare visitant to Britain ; Africa in winter to Abyssinia on the east, and Loango on the west side ; Asia Minor and Asia east to Western Turkestan. In the New World it is replaced by a nearly allied species, H. surinamensis (Gmel.).
As a rule the Black Tern is extremely tame and fearless. On the wing it is extremely graceful and may often be seen hover¬ing over the water for a moment and then pouncing down like a stone on its prey. It feeds chiefly on aquatic insects of various kinds, worms, grubs, &c. It breeds in swamps, making a tolerably well constructed nest of grass and marsh plants, and late in May deposits 3 eggs, which are ochreous clay in ground¬colour, sometimes with an olivaceous tinge, marked with purplish grey shell spots, and blackish surface spots and blotches, and measure about 1.49 by 1.0.
1110. Hydrochelidon nigra
1110. BLACK TERN.