Bill orange, the tip black: legs orange: tarsus seven lines and a half: tail very much forked, shorter than the wings: forehead white.
S. minuta, Temm. Man. d'Orn. torn. ii. p. 752. Lesser Tern, Mont. Orn. Diet,& Supp. Bew. Brit. Birds, vol. ii. p. 187. Selb. Must. vol. ii. p. 475. pl. 89. f. 3, & 4.
Entire length nine inches six lines: length of the bill (from the forehead) one inch two lines, (from the gape) one inch eight lines; of the tarsus seven lines and a half; of the middle toe, claw included, nine lines; of the tail three inches three lines; from the carpus to the end of the wing seven inches one line: breadth, wings extended, twenty inches ten lines.
(Summer and winter plumage). Forehead, and a streak above the eyes, pure white; between the bill and the eye a broad black streak; crown, occiput, and nape, deep black; back, scapulars, and wing-coverts, pale bluish ash: first three quills blackish gray, their inner webs broadly edged with white: cheeks, all the under parts, and tail,, pure white: bill yellowish orange; the tip black: irides black: legs and toes orange-yellow. (Young of the year). Forehead yellowish white; crown, occiput and nape, brownish, with dusky streaks; before and behind the eyes a black spot; back, scapulars and wing-coverts, yellowish white, with a crescent-shaped dusky bar near the extremity of each feather: quills cinereous gray, edged and tipped with yellowish white: tail nearly even at the end, white tinged with cinereous, the tips of the feathers yellowish: throat, and all the under parts, white: bill shorter than in the adult bird, pale yellow, the tip blackish brown: legs dull yellow. (Egg). Stone-colour, spotted and speckled with ash-gray and dark chestnut-brown: long. diam. one inch four lines; trans, diam. eleven lines.
Common on some parts of the British coast during the summer months, but not so generally diffused as the S. Hirundo. Habits similar to those of that species. Eggs two or three in number, deposited on the shingly beach a little above high water-mark. Food, marine worms and winged insects.