A History of the Birds of New Zealand.
Hydrochelidon Leucoptera. — (White-Winged Black Tern.)
(White-Winged Black Tern.)
Sterna fissipes, Pallas, Zoogr. Rosso-Asiat. ii. p. 338 (1811).
Sterna leucoptera, Meisner u. Schinz, Vög. d. Schweiz, p. 264 (1815).
Hydrochelidon leucoptera, Boie, Isis, 1822, p. 563.
Viralva leucoptera, Steph. Gen. Zool. xiii. p. 170 (1825).
Hydrochelidon nigra, Gray, Gen. of B. iii. p. 660 (1846).
Ad. ptil. æstiv. suprà niger, niger, dorso et scapularibus paullò fumoso lavatis: dorso postico et uropygio albis: caudâ albâ: tectricibus alarum minimis albis, medianis et majoribus pulchrè cinereis: remigibus nigris, primariis interioribus canis, secundariis nigris dorso concoloribus: facie laterali et corpore subtùs toto nitidè nigris: crisso et subcaudalibus albis: subalaribus nigris, extùs albo notatis: rostro nigro: pedibus pallidè rubris: iride nigrâ.
Ad. ptil. hiem. suprâ dilutè cinereus, collo postico nigricante notato: tectricibus alarum dorso concoloribus, quibusdam minoribus versùs basin brunnescentibus: remigibus nigricantibus, scapis ochraceis, primariorum pogonii interni dimidio albo, secundariis cinereo lavatis: rectricibus suprà cinereis, externis albicantibus angustè albido limbatis: facie et collo lateralibus torquem interruptum collarem formantibus: subtùs omninò albus: rostro nigro, versùs basin rubescente: pedibus flavidis.
Adult in summer. Head, neck, and all the under surface shining black; the whole of the scapulars, and the back, smoky black; upper wing-coverts dark grey, becoming white towards the edge of the wing; first two primaries greyish black, with white shafts, and broadly marked with white on their inner webs; the rest of the primaries dark silvery grey, smoky on their inner webs; secondaries sooty grey, the inner ones darker; rump and tail, with upper and lower coverts, pure white. Irides and bill black; legs dull red. Total length 8·5 inches; extent of wings 21; wing, from flexure, 8; tail 2·75; bill, along the ridge ·9, along the edge of lower mandible 1·25; bare tibia ·25; tarsus ·75; middle toe and claw 1; hind toe and claw ·2.
Adult in winter. Forehead, sides of the head, and all the under surface pure white; occiput, ear-coverts, nape, and hind neck greyish black; upper surface of back, wings, and tail dark grey; the small wing-coverts shaded with brown; the primaries sooty black, with white shafts; the secondaries with dark shafts, and tinged more or less with grey.
I know of only one instance of the occurrence of this beautiful Tern in New Zealand. On the 12th of December, 1868, Mr. D. Monro shot a pair of them on the Waihopai river-bed in the provincial district of Nelson; and one of these is now in the Colonial Museum. They were in full summer plumage, and were associating with a large breeding-colony of Sterna frontalis; but whether they were actually nesting themselves, Mr. Monro was not able to ascertain. He mentions, however, that there was only a single pair of this species in the flock, and that they uttered at intervals a harsh croaking note.
This Tern has likewise been discovered in Australia since the publication of Mr. Gould’s ‘Handbook’; and, as it is unquestionably the same form as that inhabiting the Palæarctic Region, the species enjoys a wide geographical range.