Sterna saundersi   Hume,  1877 (Bird)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Aves

Image copyrights: pbase

Size: 23 cm; Length 22-24 cm.

Color: Above pale grey; in breeding bird cap black, triangular white forehead patch not extending behind eye, non-breeding has mostly white crown with black on nape extending through eye; underparts, rump and tail white; first three or four primaries and associated coverts black. Immature more sandy buff above with darker centres to feathers. Bare parts: iris brown; bill yellow with black tip in breeding and black in non-breeding bird; feet and legs olive, dark reddish brown or pinkish brown.

Voice: A sharp creek, creek.

Habits: Feeds solitary or in small flocks, flying back and forth over water surface looking for food, plunges steeply over prey, also feeds by dipping. he species breeds in solitary pairs or small loose colonies of 5-30 pairs. It inhabits shallow tropical and subtropical inshore waters, estuaries, tidal lagoons and harbours often feeding up to 15 km offshore and nesting up to 2 km inland. The nest is a hollow (e.g. an animal footprint) in bare sand, shingle or dried mud just above the high tide line on beaches, on mudflats or up to 2 km inland. It shows a preference for nesting on small mounds of wind-blown sand surrounding plants or other objects, and in breeding colonies neighbouring nests are usually placed between 20 and 100 m apart

Adult breeding: With shorter and more rounded white forehead patch and broader black loral stripe, grey rump and centre of tail matching paler grey mantle, purer and black outer edge to primaries, shorter tail-streamers, and reddish-brown to brown legs.

Synonym (s)

Common Name (s)
• Saunders's Tern (English)
• Saunders Little Tern (English)
• Saunders' tern (English)
Economic Importance and Threats

Habitat:  Estuarine, Coastal
Trophic Level:  Consumer
Prey:  Carnivorous, comprising chiefly small fish, crustaceans and aquatic insects.
IUCN Status:  Least Concern


• Gujarat INDIA
• Gujarat, Gulf of Kachchh INDIA
• Kerala, Vembanad Lake (Lat: 9.28) (Long: 76.31) INDIA
• Kerala, Vembanad Lake (Lat: 9.66) (Long: 76.55) 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
  • Animal Photo Album 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
  • Vernacular names of the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent Buceros, Envis newsletter: Avian Ecology & Inland Wetlands 62pp Available at -
  • PBase Available at -

Page last updated on:2013-02-12

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