1499. Sterna anglica

1499. Sterna anglica.

The Gull-billed Tern,

Sterna anglica, Mont. Orn. Dict. Suppl. (1813); Hume, Cat. no. 983; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 1011; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 94; Butler, ibid. p. 440; Reid, S. F. x, p. 86; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 422; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 428 ; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 349; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 304. Gelochelidon anglica, Bonap. Comp. List B. Eur. & N. Amer. p. 61; Blyth, Cat. p. 290; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 836 ; Hayes Lloyd, Ibis, 1873, p. 421; Ball, S. F. iv, p. 237 ; Hume, ibid. pp. 294, 414; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 491; Davids. & Wend. S. F. vii, p. 93; Cripps, ibid. p. 313; Biddulph, Ibis, 1881, p. 102, 1882, p. 290; Saunders, Cat. B. M. xxv, p. 25. Gelichelidon nilotica, Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xli, pt. 2, p. 256. Sterna nilotica, apud Hume, S. F. i, p. 281; Adam, ibid. p. 403; Butler, S. F. iv, p. 31; v, p. 235; Armstrong, S. F. iv, p. 351.

Coloration. In summer plumage the forehead, crown, and nape, with the upper lores and the sides of the head as far down as the lower edge of the orbit, are jet-black; upper parts from nape pale pearl-grey, inner webs of primaries darker; lower lores, cheeks, and the lower parts throughout, including the wing-lining, white.

In winter the upper part of the head is white streaked with black, the remainder as in summer.. Young birds have the crown grey or white mixed with grey, primaries dark; and in very young birds the feathers of the upper plumage, especially the scapulars and tertiaries, are brown in part with buff edges.

Bill, legs, and feet black; irides brown. In summer the bill and legs are tinged with red.

Length 15; tail 5 to 5.5, depth of fork 1.5; wing 12.5; tarsus 1.4 ; bill from gape 2. Females are rather smaller.

Distribution. Europe as far north as lat. 55° in summer, Northern Africa, Atlantic coast of America, temperate and tropical Asia, Malay Archipelago, and Australia. Chiefly a winter visitor to India and Ceylon, where it is common in suitable localities ; it is apparently restricted to estuaries and the coast in Burma.

Habits, &c. In India and Ceylon this Tern is found about all large rivers and extensive marshes or tanks; it also occurs on the sea-coast. It feeds both on aquatic food and on insects. The great majority of birds of this species leave India, to breed, but Hume took an egg on the Chenab, in the N.W. Punjab, on April 28th. Numbers were found breeding at the head of the Persian Gulf early in April. The eggs, three in number, are of the usual type, and measure about 2 by 1.46.

The Fauna Of British India, Including Ceylon And Burma-birds
Blanford, William Thomas, ed. The Fauna of British India: Including Ceylon and Burma. Vol. 4. 1898.
Title in Book: 
1499. Sterna anglica
Book Author: 
William Thomas Blanford
Page No: 
Common name: 
Gull Billed Tern
Gull-billed Tern
Gelochelidon nilotica
Vol. 4

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