Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia
- Hydroprogne : Greek word hudro– water; Latin word progne-swallow.
- Caspia : From the Caspian sea
Vernacular Name : Sind: Kekra, Guj: Dariaidhomdi, Motivabagali, Ta: Sigappumookuaala, Te: Ramadasu, Sinh: Mamuhudulithiniya, Mar: Caspian suray
Distribution in India: Widespread winter visitor except North, North West and parts of East India.
Description: Size of 48–56 cm; wt. of 574–782 g; wingspan of 127–140 cm. It is the largest tern in India. It has a large, stout blood red bill with variable black tip, and slightly forked tail. It is distinguished by black under surface of primaries, conspicuous in flight; eyes are dark brown, legs are black. The non-breeding adult has forehead and cap as blackish, streaked white. The juvenile is grey above with brown bars, strongest on scapulars and inner secondaries; cap is dark, streaked white, extending further down cheeks than in adult; tail and primaries are dark grey; bill is red-orange with blackish tip.
Habitat: It is found along coasts, as well as on large inland lakes and reservoirs, breeding on sand, shell or rocky islands. Winter roosts form at large lakes and estuaries on sandbars, mudflats, shell banks.
Food habits: It eats small to medium-sized fish, eggs and young of other birds, and carrion. Itfeeds in loose flocks, but occasionally exhibits feeding territoriality. It hovers and plunge-dives, and occasionally uses surface-dipping. It also pirates food from other terns and gulls. .It feeds at freshwater lakes, inland seas and coastal lagoons and estuaries and is rarely pelagic
Breeding habits: They breed in Apr–Jun in N Hemisphere, Sept–Dec in S Hemisphere, year-round in N Australia. .They nest as single pairs in gull or tern colonies. The nest is a depression in sand, gravel, shell, or even ground vegetation. They lay a clutch of 2–3 eggs . The incubation period is 26–28 days. The chicks remain in nest for 3 days and the fledging period is. 35–45 days. They give prolonged parental care to the chicks.