1122. LITTLE TERN.
Sterna minuta, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 228 (1766) ; Naum. x. p. 145, Taf. 254 ; Hewitson, ii. p. 484, pl. cxxxiv. fig. 1 ; Gould, B. of E. v. pl. 420 ; (id.), B. of Gt. Brit. v. pl. 73 ; Dresser, viii. p. 279, pl. 582 ; Saunders, Cat. B. Br. Mus. xxv. p. 116 ; id. Manual, p. 651 ; Blanford, F. Brit. Ind. Birds, iv. p. 321 ; Lilford, vi. p. 21, pl. 10.
Sterne naine, French ; Catalinita, Moncheta, Span. ; Fraticello, Ital. ; Zwerg-Meerschwalbe, German ; Dwerg-zeezwaluw, Dutch ; Dvoerg-Terne, Dan. ; Smatarna, Swed. ; Malaya-Martyschka, Malaya-Kraschka, Russ.
Male ad. (England). Forehead white ; a stripe from the base of the bill through the eye, crown, and nape deep black ; mantle and upper rump dark pearl-grey ; lower rump, tail-coverts, tail, and entire under parts pure white ; first three primaries with blackish shafts, and blackish in colour, broadly margined on the inner web with white ; bill yellow tipped with black ; legs light orange ; iris brown. Culmen 1.4, wing 6.75, tail 3.8, the lateral feathers 1.95 longer than the middle ones, tarsus 0.6 inch. In winter the upper parts are rather darker, and more white on the forehead.
Hab. Europe generally, from Southern Sweden to the Mediter¬ranean, but rarer in the north ; Britain in summer ; North Africa and the West Coast down to the Cape in winter ; Asia east to India and Burma, and south in winter as far as Java. In America it is replaced by a nearly allied species, S. antillarum.
In general habits it differs but little from the Common Tern, and is equally graceful on the wing. It usually frequents the sea coasts, though it is not unfrequently seen on inland waters. Its food consists of small fishes, aquatic insects, and larvae, and its note is a shrill, somewhat harsh kreek, or kree. Its 2 to 3 eggs are deposited on the sand or shingle, usually late in May or early in June, and are greyish yellow or stone-ochre in ground¬colour, somewhat sparingly covered with violet-grey shell- markings and blackish brown surface spots, and measure about 1.28 by 0.92.
The young of this and all the preceding Terns resemble the adult in winter dress, but have the upper parts marked or mottled with buff, dusky brown, or blackish.
1122. Sterna minuta
1122. LITTLE TERN.