Birds of America
By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.
THE LARGE-BILLED PUFFIN.
MORMON GLACIALIS, Leach.
Although my learned friend Prince CHARLES BONAPARTE says in his Synopsis of
the Birds of the United States, that this species is not uncommon in winter on
our coast, I have only once met with it, and even then I rather supposed than
was actually certain that the birds observed were Large-billed Puffins. They
occurred on the outer side of the Island of Grand Manan, at the entrance of the
Bay of Fundy. None were seen by myself or my companions on our way to Labrador,
or in that country, so that I am unable to say anything respecting the habits of
this remarkable bird. The specimens from which my figures were taken were
kindly lent to me by Mr. GOULD of London, whose name must be familiar to you as
a successful cultivator of Ornithology.
MORMON GLACIALIS, Bonap. Syn., p. 430
LARGE-BILLED PUFFIN, Nutt. Man., vol. ii. p. 541.
LARGE-BILLED PUFFIN, Mormon glacialis, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. iii. p. 599.
Male, 13, 24 1/2.
Very rare, and in winter only, off the Bay of Fundy.
Bill about the length of the head, nearly as high as long, exceedingly
compressed, at the base higher than the head, obliquely furrowed on the sides.
Upper mandible with a horny rim along the incurved basal margin, its dorsal line
regularly curved from the base, the ridge very narrow but rounded, the sides
rapidly sloping, and marked with three curved oblique grooves, the edges strong,
rather sharp, their outline nearly straight, the tip deflected, very narrow, but
obtuse. Between the basal rim and the first groove is a triangular flat space,
in the lower part of which, close to the edge of the mandible, is the linear
direct nostril. Lower mandible with the angle narrow, and so placed that the
base is inflected much beyond the perpendicular, the dorsal line irregularly
curved, towards the end ascending and nearly straight, the ridge narrow, broader
about the middle, the sides nearly flat and grooved, the edges strong, the tip
very narrow. The gap extends downwards a little beyond the base of the bill,
and is furnished with a soft corrugated extensible membrane.
Head large, oblong, anteriorly compressed. Eyes of moderate size, with
bare orbits; over the upper eyelid an oblong, tapering, horny body directed
upwards and backwards, on the lower a linear body of a similar nature over its
whole length. Neck short and thick. Body full and rounded. Feet short, rather
stout; tibia bare for a short space above the joint. Tarsus very short, little
compressed, anteriorly for three-fourths of its length with a series of small
scutella, the rest with reticular angular scales. Hind toe wanting, toes rather
long and slender, scutellate above, connected by reticulated entire membranes,
the third and fourth toes about equal, the second considerably shorter, with a
narrow marginal web. Claws strong, of moderate length, compressed, arched, that
of the inner toe much curved and acute.
Plumage close, blended, soft, very short on the head. Wings curved, short,
narrow, acute. Primary quills tapering, incurved, the first longest, the second
a little shorter, the rest regularly graduated; secondaries very short and
rounded. Tail very short, much rounded, of sixteen rounded feathers.
Bill bright orange-red, soft edges of mouth gamboge. Edges of eyelids
orange-red; the iris and horny appendages light blue. Feet orange-red, with the
webs paler, the claws yellowish-brown. The sides of the head and the lower
parts in general, white; upper part of the head light brownish-grey tinged with
lilac; a broad collar extending to the lower mandible, of a dark greyish-brown
tint below, and gradually passing into the colour of the upper parts, which is
brownish-black, glossed with blue; primary quills and their coverts
blackish-brown, very slightly margined with paler.
Length to end of tail 13 inches, to end of claws 14, to end of wings
12 1/2; extent of wings 24 1/2; bill along the ridge 2 1/4, along the edge of
lower mandible 1 5/8; depth of bill at the base 1 11/12, its greatest diameter
5/8; tarsus 1 3/8; middle toe 1 7/8, its claw 1/2.
The female is precisely similar to the male.