1506. Sterna fluviatilis.
The Common Tern.
Sterna fluviatilis, Neum. Isis, 1819, p. 1848; Hume & Henders. Lah. to Yark. p. 303; Hume, S. F. iv, p. 472 ; id. Cat. no. 986; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 1015; Davison, S. F. x, p. 418; Saunders, Cat. B. M. xxv, p. 54. Sterna hirundo, L. Syst. Nat. i, p. 227, pt.; Blyth, Cat. p, 292 ; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 839; v. Felzeln, Ibis, 1868, p. 321; Hume, S. F. i, p. 282; C. H. T. Marshall, Ibis, 1884, p. 425. Sterna tibetana, Saunders, P. Z. S. 1876, p. 649 ; Blanford, S. F. v, p. 485.
The European Tern, Jerdon.
Coloration. Forehead and upper lores, crown, nape and sides of the head as far down as the lower edge of the orbit, black ; back and wings ashy grey, 1st primary with the outer web black and a strip of the inner web near the shaft blackish, remainder of inner web white; 2nd primary less black, and with less white on the inner web, secondaries edged with white; rump, upper tail-coverts, and inner webs of tail-feathers white, outer webs of the same grey, darkest on the long outermost pair; lower lores, cheeks, chin, throat, wing-lining, and under tail-coverts white; breast and abdomen very pale grey, with a vinous tinge.
In winter the forehead is white, or mottled with white, the crown streaked with black, and the lower parts whitish. Young birds have a broad white forehead, the hind head sooty black, a white collar, a dark band along the smaller wing-coverts, and white underparts. Very young birds have the usual broad buff outer and brown inner margins to the feathers of the upper parts.
Bill, legs, and feet in the breeding-season coral-red, much duller in winter, and blackish in young birds. The tip of both mandibles is always blackish.
Length 14; tail 5 to 7.5, depth of fork 3 to 5; wing 10.5; tarsus .8 ; bill from gape 2.
Distribution. Temperate regions of Asia, Europe, and Worth America, ranging into Ladak and the higher Himalayan valleys, and occasionally in winter visiting parts of India and Ceylon. Most of the birds obtained on the coasts of Southern India, Ceylon, and the Malay Peninsula are immature.
Habits, &c. The common Tern of Europe is found equally on rivers, lakes, and the sea-coast; it is essentially a fish-eating species, and. breeds in May and June, on sandy or pebbly tracts near the shore, laying three eggs of the usual character. The nest is often on shingle above high-water mark.
The true S. hirundo, L. (S. macrura, auct.) breeds in north temperate and arctic regions, but has been found migrating in winter as far as South Africa and South America. Stragglers might be met with in India. The Coloration is very similar to that of S. fluviatilis, but adults may be recognized by having the bill entirely red, and birds of all ages by the tarsus being shorter than the middle toe without the claw.