Lesser Crested Tern (Thalasseus bengalensis)

The Lesser Crested Tern has an interesting genus name is from the Greek Thalasseus,- “fisherman” from thalassa, “sea”. The specific bengalensis means “of Bengal”, found in the regions of northern India and Bangladesh where it is found, through they are spread throughout sub tropical coastlines across Southern Europe, Africa, the Indian Ocean regions and Australia where they also breed in dense colonies on coastlines and islands.

They feed by ‘plunge-diving’ into saline waters for fish up to about a meter underwater or on the surface, and the male often offers the fish to the female as a display of courtship. It has a distinctive orange-yellow long and sharp beak, and a black crest on its head. They are strictly coastal and are found along coastlines and estuaries, and do not travel inland.

The adapt to their environment by following fishing boats and feeding off the remnants of the catch and have learnt to utilize abandoned buildings, salt pans and sewage works as nesting sites.

I photographed this pair on the shores of Pulicat Lake, Tamilnadu.

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