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Ross' Gull

Ross' Gull

The definitive website on wildbirds & nature

Birds of America

By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.


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[Ross' Gull.]

LARUS ROSSII, Richardson.
[Rhodostethia rosea.]


Not having met with this beautiful little Gull, I am obliged to refer to Dr. RICHARDSON's description of it in the Fauna Boreali-Americana.

"Cuneate-tailed Gull, with a pearl-grey mantle. Wings longer than the cuneiform tail. The outer web of the first tail-feather blackish; a slender black bill, tarsi an inch long, and, as well as the feet, vermilion red.

"Two specimens of this Gull were killed on the coast of Melville Peninsula, on Sir EDWARD PARRY's second voyage, one of which is preserved in the Museum of the University of Edinburgh, and the other was presented tO JOSEPH SABINE, Esq. No other examples are known to exist in collections; but Commander Ross, in his Zoological Appendix to Sir EDWARD PARRY's narrative of his most adventurous boat-voyage towards the Pole, relates that several were seen during the journey over the ice north of Spitzbergen, and that Lieutenant FORSTER also found the species in Waygait Straits, which is probably one of its breeding places. It is to Commander Ross, who killed the first specimen which was obtained, that the species is dedicated, as a tribute for his unwearied exertions in the promotion of natural history on the late Arctic voyages, in all of which he bore a part. Of the peculiar habits or winter retreat of this species nothing is known.

"Description of a specimen killed, June 1823, at Alagnak, Melville Penininsula, lat. 69 1/4 degrees N.

"Colour.--Scapulars, inter-scapulars, and both surfaces of the wings clear pearl-grey; outer web of the first quill blackish-brown to its tip, which is grey; tips of the scapulars and lesser quills whitish. Some small feathers near the eye, and a collar round the middle of the neck pitch black; rest of the plumage white. The neck above and the whole under plumage deeply tinged with peach-blossom red in recent specimens. Bill black; its rictus and the edges of the eyelids reddish-orange. Legs and feet vermilion-red; nails blackish.

"Form.--Bill slender, weak, with a scarcely perceptible salient angle beneath; the tipper mandible slightly arched and compressed towards the point; the commissure slightly curved at the tip. Wings an inch longer than the decidedly cuneiform tail, of which the central feathers are an inch longer than the lateral. Tarsi rather stout; the thumb very distinct, armed with a nail as large as that of the outer toe.

"The other specimen killed by Mr. SHERER a few days later, differs only in the first primary coverts having the same dark colour with the outer web of the first primary itself.

"Length to end of tail 14 inches; tail 5 1/2; wing 10 1/2; bill along the ridge 3/4; rictus 1 1/4; from nostril to tip of bill (4 1/2)/12; tarsus 1 1/12; middle toe (10 1/2)/12, its nail 3/12.

LARUS ROSSII, Cuneate-tailed Gull, Swains. and Rich. F. Bor. Amer.,vol. ii. p. 427.

ROSS' GULL, Larus Rossii, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. v. p. 324.

Adult, 14; wing 10 1/2.

Arctic Seas.

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