Birds of America
By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.
GLAUCOUS GULL OR BURGOMASTER.
LARUS GLAUCUS, Brunn.
PLATE CCCCXLIX.---ADULT MALE, AND YOUNG.
I found this species on the coast of Labrador in very small numbers, all
paired, in the month of July; but our endeavours to discover their nests were
unavailing, and their shyness, which surpassed even that of the Great
Black-backed Gull, prevented us from seeing much of their habits. I have never
met with one on any part of our Atlantic coast, and I am much disposed to
believe that those which may retire from the Arctic regions, where they are
numerous, follow the north-west shores of America, as is indeed the case with
many of the hyperborean birds, they giving an unaccountable preference to that
side of the continent. It is true that I have often been told at Boston and New
York that the Glaucous Gull had not unfrequently been procured there; but in no
instance could I place any reliance upon the report, for when the supposed
Glaucous Gull was shown to me, it proved to be merely a large specimen of the
Herring Gull, Larus argentatus. Dr. RICHARDSON, who had good opportunities of
observing this bird, speaks of it as follows:--
"This large and powerful Gull inhabits Greenland, the Polar Seas, Baffin's
Bay, and the adjoining straits and coasts, in considerable numbers, during the
summer. Its winter resorts in America have not been mentioned by authors; and
the Prince of MUSIGNANO informs us, that it is exceedingly rare in the United
States. It is notoriously greedy and voracious, preying not only on fish and
small birds, but on carrion of every kind. One specimen killed on Captain Ross'
expedition disgorged an auk when it was struck, and proved, on dissection, to
have another in its stomach. Unless when impelled to exertion by hunger, it is
rather a shy, inactive bird, and has little of the clamorousness of others of
the genus. There is a considerable variety in the size of individuals. Captain
SABINE found most of his specimens smaller than the L. marinus, but the largest
individual of either species which he met with, was a male of L. glaucus, killed
in Barrow's Strait. Its length was thirty-two inches; extent of wing sixty-five
inches; weight four pounds and a quarter. Its tarsus was three inches and a
half long, and its bill, which was prodigiously strong and arched, measured
upwards of four inches. The eggs of this Gull are pale purplish-grey, with
scattered spots of umber-brown, and subdued lavender-purple."
My figures were taken from specimens kindly presented to me by my friend
Captain JAMES CLARKE ROSS, R. N.
LARUS GLAUCUS, Bonap. Syn., p. 361.
LARUS GLAUCUS, Burgomaster Gull, Swains. and Rich. F. Bor. Amer., vol. ii.p. 416.
GLAUCOUS GULL or BURGOMASTER, Nutt. Man., vol. ii. p. 306.
GLAUCOUS GULL or BURGOMASTER, Larus glaucus, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. v.p. 59.
Adult, 30; wing, 19 1/2.
Met with in Labrador in summer. Baffin's Bay and Arctic Seas generally.
Not observed within the limits of the United States.
Bill shorter than the head, stout, compressed, higher near the end than at
the base. Upper mandible with the dorsal line nearly straight for half its
length, declinate and arched towards the end, the ridge convex, the sides very
rapidly sloping and slightly convex, the edges sharp and somewhat inflected, the
tip rather obtuse. Nasal groove rather long and narrow; nostrils in its fore
part, lateral, longitudinal, linear-oblong, wider anteriorly, pervious. Lower
mandible with the angle long and narrow, the outline of the crura decurved
toward their junction, where there is a prominence, beyond which the outline
ascends and is slightly concave, the sides erect and nearly flat, the edges
sharp and a little inflected.
Head large, ovato-oblong, narrowed anteriorly. Neck of moderate length,
strong. Body full. Feet of moderate length, rather slender; tibia bare for
three-quarters of an inch; tarsus somewhat compressed, covered anteriorly with
numerous much curved scutella, laterally with angular scales, behind with
numerous small rectangular scales; hind toe very small and elevated, the fore
toes of moderate length, slender, the fourth longer than the second, the third
longest, all scutellate above, and connected by reticulated entire membranes,
the lateral toes margined externally with a thick narrow membrane. Claws small,
slightly arched, depressed, rounded, that of the middle toe with an expanded
thin inner margin.
The plumage is very full, close, elastic, soft, and blended, on the back
somewhat compact. Wings very long, rather broad, acute; the first quill
scarcely two-twelfths of an inch shorter than the second, which is longest, the
rest of the primaries rapidly graduated; secondaries broad and rounded. Tail of
moderate length, nearly even, being slightly rounded, of twelve broad rounded
Bill gamboge-yellow, with a carmine patch towards the end of the lower
mandible, and the edges of both mandibles at the base of the same colour. Edges
of eyelids red, iris yellow. Feet flesh-coloured, claws yellowish. The head,
neck, lower parts, rump, and tail, are pure white; the back and wings light
greyish-blue; the edges of the wing, and a large portion toward the end of all
the quills, white.
Length to end of tail 30 inches; bill along the ridge 2 9/12, along the
edge 3 1/2; wing from flexure 19 1/2; tail 8 3/4; tarsus 2 11/12; hind toe
(2 1/2)/12, its claw 3/12, second toe 10/12, its claw (5 1/2)/12; middle toe
2 7/12, its claw (6 1/2)/12; outer toe 2 1/4, its claw 4/12.
The Female, which is somewhat less, resembles the male.
Young in full plumage.
The bill is yellow to a little beyond the nostrils, black at the end; the
feet flesh-coloured, the claws dusky. The iris brown. The general colour of
the plumage is very pale yellowish-brown; the feathers of the back with a large
dusky spot towards the end; the quills and tail-feathers barred with the same.