1510. Sterna minuta.
The Little Tern.
Sterna minuta, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 228 (1766); Hume, Cat. no. 988; Reid, S. F. x, p. 86; Saunders, Cat. B. M. xxv, p. 116. Sternula minuta, Blyth, Cat. p. 292; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 840; Hume & Henders. Lah. to Yark. p. 303 ; Hume, N. & E. p. 654 ; id. S. F. ii, p. 49. Sterna gouldi, Hume, S. F. v, p. 326; Cripps, S. F. vii, p. 314; Hume, Cat, no. 988 quat.; id. S. F. ix, p. 131; xi, p. 350. Sternula gouldi, Ball, S. F. vii, p. 233.
This closely resembles S. sinensis, but is smaller, with considerably shorter outer rectrices ; the two outer primaries, as a rule, with dark webs and sullied brownish shafts, the shaft of the second very often much browner than that of the first; the upper tail-coverts and tail generally tinged with grey; bill shorter.
Length 9; tail 3 to 3.7, depth of fork 1.5 ; wing 6.75 ; tarsus .65 ; bill from gape 1.5.
Distribution. Europe, the greater part of Africa in winter, and Western and Central Asia with Northern India, as far south as the Godavari. Specimens have been obtained in Burma, and even in Java.
The form breeding in India was distinguished by Hume as S. gouldi, chiefly because of its greyish rump and of the shafts of the first primary being whiter than that of the second, but these differences are not constant.
Habits, &c. Similar to the last. In Northern India this Tern breeds on sandbanks in rivers from March to the beginning of May, in the same localities as those selected by Sterna seena, S. melanogaster, Rhynchops albicollis, and Glareola lactea, all of which lay earlier than S. minuta, or in similar places.