Gelochelidon nilotica affinis   (Horsfield)  (Bird)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Aves

Image copyrights: Terje Kolaas

Size: 35-38 cm

Adult: Sexes alike. Pale grey and white tern, with stout black 'gull-like' bill, slightly forked white tail and black legs. Non-breeding (winter): Head white, streaked with black in front and behind the eyes. Distinguished from Whiskered Tern by larger size, stouter bill and slower wing beats. Breeding (Summer): Head turns jet-black covering forehead, crown down to eyes and nape. Juvenile: Crown grey or greyish-white; upperparts pale brown with buff edges and grey-brown primaries.

Voice: Generally silent, low grk-gek-gek.

Habits: Gregarious, but generally seen in ones or twos in association with other terns near wetlands, flying low over sand-mudflats, swooping down frequently for foraging.

Breeding season: From end of the April to end of the June

Synonym (s)
Gelochelidon nilotica (Gmelin, 1789)

Common Name (s)
• Javan Gullbilled Tern (English)
• Gullbilled Tern (English)
• Gull-billed Tern (English)
• Kadalkakka (Malayalam)
• Ramadasu, Samudrapu kaki (Telugu)
• Karuppu mooku aala (Tamil)
• Suray, Hivali surya (Marathi)
• Dhomda-dhomdi, Dholi vabagali (Gujarati)
Economic Importance and Threats
Threats:  Anthropogenic
(The species is threatened by the deterioration and loss of habitat, e.g. through wetland drainage, agricultural intensification, pesticide pollution, fluctuating water levels, beach erosion and the development or modification of foraging sites. It also suffers from reduced reproductive successes as a result of human disturbance at breeding colonies.)

Habitat:  Muddy, Coastal
Trophic Level:  Consumer
Prey:  Carnivorous, chiefly sand crabs, prawns, crustaceans, fish, small frogs and insects.
IUCN Status:  Least Concern


• Orissa, Chilika Lake INDIA
• Andaman and Nicobar Islands INDIA
• West Bengal INDIA

Literature Source(s)
  • (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
  • Nandi, NC; Das, SR; Bhuinya, S and Dasgupta, JM (1993) Wetland faunal resources of West Bengal, I., north and south 24-Parganas districts Occasional paper no 150 Records of the Zoological Survey of India ZSI 18264
  • Khan, RA (2002) The ecology and faunal diversity of two floodplain Ox Bow lakes of south eastern West Bengal Occasional paper no. 195 Records of the Zoological Survey of India ZSI, Kolkata 20821 Available at - NCL, Pune
  • Tikader, BK and Das, AK (1985) Glimpses of animal life of Andaman and Nicobar Islands ZSI, Kolkata 1-170 Available at - NCL, Pune
  • Society for the Management of European Biodiversity Data (2009) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Available at -
  • Terje Kolaas Naturspesialisten 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 -
  • Kumar A, sati JP and Tak CK (2003) Checklist of Indian Waterbids Buceros Envis Newsletter: Avian ecology and inland wetlands 8(1) 30pp Available at -

Page last updated on:2012-10-04

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