1511. Sterna saundersi.
The Black-shafted Ternlet.
Sternula minuta, Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 840, pt.; Hume, S. F. iv, p. 469; Butler, S. F. v, p. 324. Sterna saundersi, Hume, S. F. v, p. 325; id. Cat, no. 988 ter; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 95; Hume, ibid. p. 131; Butler, ibid. p. 441; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 1023 ; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 430; id. Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. vi, p. 297 ; Saunders, Cat. B. M. xxv, p. 120.
This is very closely allied to S. sinensis and S. minuta, but it has a paler mantle; the upper tail-coverts and tail are grey like the back, only the long outermost rectrices being white, and the first three primaries have the shafts and outer webs and the inner webs near the shafts blackish, strongly contrasting with the pure white inner borders of the feathers. The bill too is straighter and slenderer.
Length 9; tail 3, depth of fork 1.1; wing 6.75; tarsus .6; bill from gape 1.6.
Distribution. Coasts of the Indian Ocean from South Africa to Burma, with the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, &c. This species has been found at Karachi, Ratnagiri, Ceylou, the Laccadives, Madras, and Lower Pegu.
Habits, &c. Very similar to those of the last two species, but apparently this is even more of a sea-coast bird. The eggs were taken at Karachi by Butler in May and June, and Legge found birds breeding in Ceylon from June to August.