1514. Sterna fuliginosa.
The Sooty Tern.
Sterna fuliginosa, Gm. Syst. Nat. 5, p. C05 (1788) ; Legge, S. F. iii, p. 378; Hume, S. F. iv, p. 477 ; id. Cat. no. 992 bis ; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 1036 ; Butler, S. F. ix, p. 441; Oates, S. F. x, p. 247 ; id. B. B. ii, p. 432; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 433 ; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 303 ; Saunders, Cat. B. M. xxv, p. 106. Onychoprion fuliginosa, Hume, S. F. i, p. 440.
Coloration very similar to that of S. anaestheta, but much darker; the white frontal band is broader, but the superciliary portion of it only extends to just above the eye; the dark loral stripe is more oblique—it reaches the bill nearer to the gape, and extends above the eye. The upper surface is sooty black, breast and throat white, abdomen and lower tail-coverts more or less suffused with grey.
In winter the crown and lores are speckled with white. Young birds are sooty brown throughout, paler below ; lower abdomen whitish ; feathers of the upper parts with white tips, which are broadest on the scapulars and tertiaries.
Bill, legs, and feet black, or blackish with a dull purplish tinge ;. irides deep brown (Hume).
Length 17 ; tail 6.5 to 7.5, depth of fork 3.5 to 4.5 ; wing 11.5 ; tarsus .9 ; bill from gape 2.3.
Distribution. Tropical and subtropical seas. This Tern is met with occasionally on the Indian coasts, and breeds on the Laccadives.
Habits, &c. This is perhaps even more an ocean-bird than S. anaestheta, and is known to sailors as the " Wide-awake." It feeds on fish, cephalopods, and Crustacea picked up from the sea, and it breeds on oceanic islands, one of its most famous breeding-places being that known as " Wide-awake Fair," on the island of Ascension. It is said by some observers to lay a single egg, but Hume found two or three in each nest on Cherbaniani Beef, in the Laccadives, where the Sooty Terns were breeding in great numbers in February, and were found to feed their young entirely on small cephalopods of the genus Sepiola. The eggs vary much, but are usually whitish with numerous red-brown spots, and measure about 1.94 by 1.34.