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Black-bellied tern

( Sterna acuticauda )

Black-bellied Tern(Sterna acuticauda) is a widespread resident in
India which is locally called as khali taheri in India. It is usually 33
cm in length. A small but very long-tailed tern with black under
parts, a slender build and long, deep orange bill that distinguishes it
from River and a deep forked tail. Black cap, rather dark grey
upperparts, white face, neck and upperparts. Sexes are alike.

The Back-bellied Tern is found on Inland lakes and rivers, preferring
broad, barren, featureless flats, sand spits and sandy islands and
marshes, occasionally on smaller pools and ditches, in lowlands but
not on the coast, up to 730m.

Black-bellied Ternis found fromIndia, southernPakistan,
Nepal,Bangladesh, Myanmar,Laos andCambodia. Despite its
large range as seen n the map below, the species may now
number less than 10,000 mature individuals. The species is also
regarded as probably extinct in Vietnam, and likely extinct as a
breeding species in Thailand. It has undergone severe declines in
China, Myanmar and Laos, and while it seems more secure in
India, Nepal and Bangladesh, declines have been noted in those
countries as well.

Despite its large range, the species could now number fewer,
perhaps significantly fewer, than 10,000 mature individuals,
although this may be. The population estimate is currently placed
at 10,000-25,000 individuals, roughly equating to 6,700-17,000
mature individuals, until more data are available.
This species is almost extinct in a
large part of its range especially
south-east Asia and is thought to be
in very rapid decline overall, owing to
a multitude of threatening processes
that affect riverine species in
southern Asia.

Due to ongoing habitat loss, small population size, and hunting for
eggs, pets and food, the Black bellied Tern is evaluated as endangered
on the IUCN red list of threatened Species. It is listed on Appendix I of

The adult Terns are largely omnivorous. The food consists of plant
and animal material, insects and small fish. They plunge-dives for
fish, and aerial-dips for insects over water and land.
The eyes of terns cannotaccommodateunder water, so they rely
on accurate sighting from the air before they plunge-dive.
Depending on availability it will eat
fish,crayfish,grasshoppersand other large insects, lizards
andamphibians.Otherprey includesmiceand the eggs and chicks
of other birds.

Black-bellied Tern can be Predated upon byfoxes,raccoons,
andrats, or animals that destroy the habitat, including
Adult terns may be hunted byowlsandraptors, and their
chicks and eggs
may be taken byherons,crowsor Other black-bellied tern.
Externalparasitesincludechewing lice, feather liceand fleas
andInternal parasites that are a threat to these birds.

The breeding season is from February to April. The Black bellied Terns
normally breed incolonies, and aresite-faithfulif their habitat is
sufficiently stable. They breed in colonies of up to a few hundred
pairs, often alongside other seabirds such as gulls or skimmers.
They usually lay just one egg, but two or three is typical in cooler
regions if there is an adequate food supply. Theincubationtakes
about 2128days.

Threats include the destruction of breeding habitat islands and sandpits in
larger rivers, the collection of eggs for food, overfishing and the flooding of
nests, often caused by dams. Increased disturbance and over-harvesting of
wetland products are blamed for the recent complete disappearance of the
breeding. River damming, disturbance, predation by dogs and egg
collecting are highlighted as causes of the species.
In India, the species faces many threats, which include water extraction,
sand and gravel extraction for development, disturbance and predation by
cats, dogs and corvids, which are attracted to human settlements, pollution
from industry and agriculture, and mortality through fisheries by catch.


Pravalika S.
Ankit Bharadwaj
Nitesh Kamal