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River Tern

From Opus

Photo © by James Williams Ranganatithu, near Mysore, Southern India, January 2007
Photo © by James Williams
Ranganatithu, near Mysore, Southern India, January 2007
Sterna aurantia


[edit] Identification

Winter PlumagePhoto © by Alok Tewari Jhajjar, Haryana India, Dec-2016
Winter Plumage
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Jhajjar, Haryana India, Dec-2016

38–46 cm (15-18 inches)

[edit] Breeding

  • Black crown
  • Dark grey upperparts
  • White underparts
  • Black lores
  • Deeply forked tail with long flexible streamers
  • Long pointed wings
  • Stout yellow bill
  • Red legs
Photo © by alkumaheerdEmer Ab-bandan, Golestan, Iran, January 2005
Photo © by alkumaheerd
Emer Ab-bandan, Golestan, Iran, January 2005

[edit] Winter

  • Greyish-white cap with black streaks
  • Dark eye mask
  • Dusky bill tip

The sexes are similar

  • Brown head
  • Grey upperparts with brown marks
  • Grey breast sides
  • White underparts
  • Yellowish bill with a dark tip

[edit] Distribution

Asia: found from Pakistan to southern India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and south-western China.

Occasionally observed in Iran.

[edit] Taxonomy

This is a monotypic species[1].

[edit] Habitat

Breeds on the sandy islands of freshwater inland rivers and lakes. They rarely visit coasts and estuaries.

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Diet

Their diet consists of fish, crustaceans, tadpoles and aquatic insects. Has been recorded as eating a frog.

They feed by plunge-diving.

[edit] Breeding

They nest in a ground scrape, often on bare rock or sand. The clutch contains 3 greenish-grey to buff eggs, which are blotched and streaked with brown.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved June 2015)

[edit] External Links


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