Birds of America
By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.
PROCELLARIA GIGANTEA, Linn.
A specimen of the Gigantic Fulmar, shot at some distance from the mouth of
the Columbia river, has been sent to me by Mr. TOWNSEND, along with those of
other species of the same genus described in this volume, and which it resembles
in form and proportions. The great size of this bird gives it at first sight
the appearance of an Albatross. It is described as frequent in the southern
seas, gliding silently over the surface of the waters, and subsisting on
carcasses of cetacea, seals, birds, and other animal matter; the sailors
distinguishing them by the name of "Mother Carey's Geese."
GIGANTIC FULMAR, Procellaria gigantea, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. v. p. 330.
Length, 36; tail, 7 1/2; bill, 4.
Off the Columbia river.
Bill longer than the head, robust, straight, moderately compressed, with
the tip decurved. Upper mandible with the nostrils on the ridge, separated only
by a thin septum, covered by a broad elongated horny case, of which the ridge is
nearly straight and carinate, and the base striated; the sides erect and convex,
separated by a groove from the nasal plate, as well as from the unguis, which is
remarkably strong, curved, laterally convex, and acute, the edges blunt, direct,
slightly recurved, along the unguis sharp and decurved.
Lower mandible with the angle long and narrow, the sides sloping a little
outwards and nearly flat, with a longitudinal seam near the edges, which are
inclinate and sharp, the tip compressed, the dorsal outline ascending and
extremely sharp, the edges at the end suddenly decurved.
Head rather large, ovate; neck rather long; body full. Legs short, rather
stout; tibia bare for an inch and a quarter; tarsus a little compressed, covered
with angular scales, of which the posterior are much smaller. Hind toe
elevated, its first phalanx scarcely apparent, its claw large, somewhat conical,
obtuse, flattened beneath; the fore toes long, slender, scutellate above,
connected by striated entire webs; the fourth toe slightly shorter than the
third, including the claws, but otherwise longer; the second toe not much
shorter. Claws moderate, arched, compressed, rather acute, that of the third
toe with an inner thin edge.
Plumage full, close, elastic; on the back and wings the feathers rather
distinct. Wings very long, narrow; primary quills broad, tapering to an obtuse
point, the first longest, the rest rapidly graduated; secondary quills broad and
rounded. Tail short, much rounded, of sixteen broad, rounded feathers, of which
the lateral are an inch and a half shorter than the middle.
Bill and feet yellow. The general colour of the plumage is a deep dingy
grey or blackish-grey, of a tint similar to that of the young of Procellaria
glacialis and P. pacifica, but much deeper. It is considerably lighter on the
lower parts, and especially on the lower surface of the wings.
Length to end of tail 36 inches; bill along the ridge 4, along the edge of
lower mandible 3 1/2; length of nasal case 1 10/12; wing from flexure
1 (9 1/2)/12; tail 7 1/2; tarsus 3 1/4; first toe 1/12, its claw 5/12; second
toe 3 1/2, its claw 7/12; third toe 4 5/12, its claw 11/12; fourth toe 4 1/4,
its claw 9/12.