(2079) Thalasseus bengalensis bengalensis.
THE INDIAN LESSEE CRESTED TERN.
Sterna bengalensis Lesson. Traits d'Orn., p. 621 (1831) (Indian coasts). Sterna media. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 313.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Very similar to the preceding Tern hut much smaller. The upper parts are a much paler grey and the black of the crown extends to the whole of the forehead.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; bill yellow to orange-yellow ; legs and feet black, soles yellowish.
Measurements. Wing 271 to 295 mm.; tail 130 to 139 mm.; tarsus about 27 to 29 mm.; culmen 50 to 57 mm.
Birds in Winter plumage and Young differ from the adult in the same way as do those of T. bergii.
Distribution. The coasts of India and Ceylon, extending to Burma.
Nidification. This Crested Tern breeds from the end of May to early July in many of the islands in the Persian Gulf, laying one to three eggs on the sand in shallow depressions or on bare rocks. There is no lining to the nest hollow and no attempt is made at concealment or protection from the sun, the birds laying in large colonies quite in the open. The eggs only differ from those of the Large Crested Terns in being much less richly coloured, very seldom scrolled and much smaller. One hundred eggs taken at random from the huge museum series collected by Col. A. E. Butler average 53.4 x 36.4 mm.: maxima 62.7 X 33.1 and 56.8 x 38.2 mm.; minima 47.5 x 34.6 and 49.8 x 33.0 mm.
Habits. Similar to those of the larger species of this genus.