1501. Sterna media.
The Smaller Crested Tern.
Sterna media, Horsf. Tr. Linn. Soc. xiii, p. 199 (1821) ; Hume, S. F. v, p. 301; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 493 ; Hume, Cat. no. 990; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 1030; Vidal, S F. ix, p. 95; Butler, ibid. p. 441; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 420; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 432; id. Jour. Bom. A. H. Soc. vi, p. 299, fig. 990; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 299 note; Saunders, Cat. B. M. xxv, p. 86. Sterna affinis, Cretzschm. in Rupp. Atlas, p. 23, t. 14 (1820). Sterna bengalensis, Lesson, Traite, p. 621 (1831) ; Hume, S. F. i, p. 284; ii, p. 318; iv, p. 474. Thalasseus bengalensis, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xv, p. 373; id. Cat. p. 291; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 843.
The Smaller Sea-Tern, Jerdon.
Coloration. Crown with forehead, sides of head to below the orbit (but not including a spot immediately beneath the eye), nape, and distinct nuchal crest black ; lores, cheeks, neck all round, and lower parts white ; upper parts from neck pale ashy grey, with a slight pinkish tinge on the mantle; outer rectrices sometimes whitish or white; primaries blackish, frosted on the outer web near the tip in fresh plumage, inner border whitish, a very narrow extension of this border to the tip of the feather soon disappears with wear, most of the inner web and terminal edge of outer web in secondaries white.
In winter the nape and a band from the nape to the front of the eye are black, the forehead and lores white ; crown black, with white edges to feathers. Young birds resemble adults in winter, but have much brown on the smaller coverts, tertiaries, and tail-feathers.
Bill orange-yellow; irides brown; legs and feet black; soles yellowish (Legge).
Length 16.5; tail 5 to 6.75, depth of fork 2 to 3; wing 12; tarsus 1; bill from gape 2.8.
Distribution. Coasts of the Indian Ocean, with the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, and Mediterranean. A common bird locally on the coasts of India and Ceylon, less often seen in Burma.
Habits, &c, This is another Sea-Tern found often in large flocks, about bays, harbours, shallow banks, and even several miles out at sea, and never met with far inland. Like the other Sea-Terns and unlike the Gulls, it always captures living fish by dashing down on them from some height, and it appears very rarely, if ever, to settle on the sea. Its eggs have not been found within Indian limits, but it breeds in colonies on sandbanks and low coral islands in the Persian Gulf *and Red Sea. The eggs are generally white sparingly spotted.