Sterna bengalensis   Lesson,  1831 (Bird)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Aves

Image copyrights: David Bigas

Size: 35-37 cm; Length 35-41 cm.

Color: Above pale grey with white collar on hind neck and black crown and crest (non-breeding bird with white forecrown and white streaking on hind crown; crest remains black); below white. Immature with brown mottling on upper wing and back. Bare parts: iris dark brown; bill orange-yellow to orange; feet and legs black with yellow soles.

Voice: Loud clamour, kreek-kreek.

Habits: Scouts for prey in small flocks, feeds by plunging from a height, when several birds drop one after another.

Adult: Sexes alike. Smaller and lighter built tern with slim and small yellowish-orange to orange bill, pale grey upper parts. Breeding (summer): Black crown, crest and forehead, lacking white lores. Non-breeding (winter): Black nape band, pale yellowish-orange bill. Juvenile: Diffuse dark bars across wings, dark centres to mantle, scapulars and tertials.

The species breeds in large dense colonies of up to 20,000 pairs often with other species. It is gregarious throughout the year, foraging in single- or mixed-species flocks up to 400 individuals. Nests- he nest is a shallow scrape on ridges or bare areas surrounded by vegetation on flat sandy beaches, low-lying sandy islands, coral flats, small coral islets and sandbanks.

Synonym (s)
Thalasseus bengalensis (Lesson, 1831)
Thalasseus bengalensis bengalensis (Christidis and Boles, 2008)

Common Name (s)
• Lesser Crested Tern (English)
• Lesser Crested-Tern (English)
• Nani dariyayi vabagali (Gujrati)
• Kondai aala (Tamil)
Economic Importance and Threats

Habitat:  Estuarine, Open Sea, Sandy, Coastal
Trophic Level:  Consumer
Prey:  Chiefly fish and prawns.
IUCN Status:  Least Concern


• Andaman and Nicobar Islands INDIA
• Goa, Chapora Estuary INDIA (Record: 25/03/1982)
• Goa, Marmagoa harbour INDIA
• Goa, Terekhol Estuary INDIA
• Goa, Divar INDIA (Record: 2005)
• Orissa, Satpara INDIA (Record: 14/09/1987)
• Tamil Nadu, Chennai INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Gulf of Mannar INDIA
• Gujarat, Gulf of Kachchh INDIA
• Kerala, Kol wetlands (Lat: 10.66) (Long: 76.18) INDIA
• Kerala, Kol wetlands (Lat: 10.33) (Long: 75.96) INDIA
• Kerala, Vembanad Lake (Lat: 9.28) (Long: 76.31) INDIA
• Kerala, Vembanad Lake (Lat: 9.66) (Long: 76.55) INDIA
• Lakshadweep, Bangaram INDIA (Record: 01/1987-04/1987)
• Lakshadweep, Tinnakara INDIA (Record: 01/1987-04/1987)
• Lakshadweep, Bitra INDIA (Record: 01/1987-04/1987)
• Lakshadweep, Kadamatt INDIA (Record: 01/1987-04/1987)
• Lakshadweep, Suheli INDIA (Record: 01/1987-04/1987)
• Lakshadweep, Kalpeni INDIA (Record: 01/1987-04/1987)
• Tamil Nadu, Point Calimere (Lat: 10.3) (Long: 79.85) INDIA
• Kerela, Kuttanad wetlands INDIA

Literature Source(s)
  • Society for the Management of European Biodiversity Data (2009) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Available at -
  • (2003) IUCN Red list of threatened species Available at -
  • Kumar, A; Sati, JP; Tak, PC and Alfred, JRB (2005) Handbook on Indian wetland birds and their conservation Zoological Survey of India, Dehra Dun 468 pp Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Lainer, H (2004) Birds of Goa : A reference book The Goa Foundation, Goa 244 pp Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Rare Birds in Spain Available at -
  • Chattopadhyay, S (1995) Aves Wetland ecosystem series 1: Fauna of Chilika lake ZSI, Calcutta 561-599 Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Marine Biological Station, Chennai, Tamil Nadu (2003) Checklist of marine fauna of Tamil Nadu Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Available at -
  • Dr. Ramesh, R; Dr. Nammalwar, P and Dr. Gowri, VS (2008) Database on coastal information of Tamil Nadu Report Submitted to Environmental Information System (ENVIS) Centre, Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Institute for Ocean Management, Anna University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Available at -
  • (1997) Coastal marine environment of Gujarat 178pp Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Nameer, PO (2005) Wetlands and waterfowl conservation in kerala with special reference to Ramsar sites kerala environment congress 2005 Centre for environment and development 97-112 Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Mohan, RSL (1989) Some observations on the marine mammals and marine birds Marine living resources of the union territory of Lakshadweep: An indicative survey with suggestions for development Bulletin of Central Marine Research Institute CMFRI 43 195-199 Available at -
  • Narayanan SP, Thomas AP and Sreekumar B (2011) Ornithofauna and its conservation in the Kuttanad wetlands, southern portion of Vembanad-Kole Ramsar site, India Journal of Threatened Taxa 3(4) 1663–1676 Available at -
  • Myers, P; Espinosa, R; Parr, CS; Jones, T; Hammond, GS and Dewey, TA (2006) Animal diversity web Available at -
  • Avibase- the world database Available at -
  • Vernacular names of the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent Buceros, Envis newsletter: Avian Ecology & Inland Wetlands 62pp Available at -
  • Manakadan R and Pittie A (2001) Standardized English names of the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent BUCEROS Envis Newsletter: Avian ecology and inland wetland 6(1) 26pp Available at -

Page last updated on:2012-06-26

Back to Search