1505. Sterna albigena.
The White-cheeked Tern.
Sterna albigena, Licht. Nomencl. An. p. 98 (1854) (descr. nulla.); Walden, Ibis, 1876, p. 384; Hume, S. F. iv, p. 467 ; Butler, S. F. v, pp. 298, 323; Hume, Cat. no. 987 bis; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 94 ; Butler, ibid. p. 440 ; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 430 ; id. Jour. Bom. N. II. Soc. vi, p. 296; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 311 note; Saunders, Cat. B. M. xxv, p. 69.
Coloration. Forehead and upper lores, crown, nape, and sides of the head to the lower edge of the orbit black; chin, gape, lower lores, and a streak along the edge of the black cap to the nape, white ; all the rest of the plumage grey, dark ashy above, vinaceous on the breast and abdomen ; upper and lower tail-coverts and tail lighter ashy, except the outer webs of the outermost tail-feathers which are dark ; outer web of first primary black except towards the end, inner web blackish grey near shafts, white near the inner border, the white not extending to the tip ; secondaries with white tips and inner borders ; wing-lining pale grey.
In winter the lores and cheeks are white, forehead and anterior portion of crown mixed white and black, wing-lining white, aud white is mixed with the grey of the lower parts. Young birds resemble adults in winter plumage, but have a dark band on the smaller wing-coverts and the underparts white throughout.
Bill black, red at base ; irides brown; legs orange ( Vidal) ; legs and feet bright red in adults, dull red in young (Butler).
Length 13.5 ; tail 6, depth of fork 3.25; wing 9.5 ; tarsus .75; bill from gape 2.
Distribution. Sea-coasts from the Red Sea to the Laccadive Islands.
Habits, &c. This is a sea-tern, often seen some miles out at sea but returning to the shore at night. Vidal observed that large flocks of this species appear on the Malabar coast at intervals, and although none-were observed by Hume or myself on the Makran coast in December and February, Butler found this Tern common there and in Karachi Harbour in the latter part of the spring and in summer. Probably it migrates to the southward in winter, for Vidal observes that flocks reach the neighbourhood of Ratnagiri about September and February in an exhausted condition. S. albigena has been found to breed on low islands in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf.