1491. Larus brunneicephalus.
The Brown-headed Gull.
Larus brunnicephalus*, Jerdon, Madr. Jour. L. S. xii, p. 25 (1840); Blyth, Cat. p. 289; Layard, A. M. N. H. (2) xiv, p. 270; Leith Adams, P. Z. S. 1858, p. 509; 1859, p. 190; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xli, pt. 2, p. 256; Hume, S. F. i, p. 278; Adam, ibid. p. 402; Oates, S. F. iii, p. 347; Armstrong, S. F. iv, p. 350; Hume, ibid. pp. 413, 456, 459; Butler, S. F. iv, p. 31; v, p. 235; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 491; Hume, S. F. vii, p. 98; Cripps, ibid. p. 313; Hume, Cat. no. 980 ; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. l049; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 94; Butler, ibid. p. 439 ; Reid, S. F. x, p. 86; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 417; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 425; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 349; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd. ed. iii, p. 293; Sharpe, Yark. Miss., Aves, p. 134; Saunders, Cat. B. M. xxv, p. 215. Xema brunnicephala, Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 832; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xxxix, pt. 2, p. 275; Lloyd, Ibis, 1873, p. 420; Hume & Henders. Lah. to Yark. p. 300, pi. xxxii; Wardi. Ramsay, Ibis, 1877, p. 472. Dhomra, H. (Reid), probably a name used for all Gulls.
Coloration. Very like that of L. ridibundus, both in summer and winter; but the present species is larger, the brown of the head is paler in front and becomes darker where it meets the white of the neck, and the first five primaries are differently marked, all being white at the base with long black ends which rapidly diminish in length from the 1st; the first two have a large rounded white spot near the end, and occasionally there is a much smaller white spot on the 3rd.
Young birds differ from young L. ridibundus in having the greater part of the primaries uniform brownish black, white commencing to appear beyond the coverts on the 4th and increasing on the. inner primaries, which have white tips; there is also a more distinct white tip beyond the black band on the tail.
Bill, inside of mouth, edges of eyelids, and legs deep red; irides white, often yellow or brownish in adults: in the young the iris is brown, bill yellowish orange, dusky at the tip, legs and feet orange, the web duller.
Length about 17 ; tail 5.25 ; wing 13.5 ; tarsus 2; bill from gape 2.4.
Distribution. In winter this Gull is found commonly about the coasts of India, Ceylon, and Burma, also on the larger rivers and large marshes', tanks, &c. Though common in Assam, Manipur, and Burma, it has not been met with farther east; and it has not been often recorded west of Sind, though Barnes found it plentifully at Aden. It breeds in Central Asia.
Habits, &c. Like other Gulls this species occurs more or less gregariously, and may be seen resting on the water, or Hying about and feeding on fish or offal. It has been observed breeding by Dr. Leith Adams about lakes in Ladak, and Dr. Henderson found it abundant in the breeding-season (July) on a stream running into the Pangong Lake at 15,000 feet, but the nest and eggs have not been described.
Larus minutus is said by Irby (Ibis, 1861, p. 246) to have been once shot by him in January 1859 near Jehangerabad, Oudh, but as neither jerdon nor Hume has admitted the bird as Indian, the latter suspecting some mistake*, and as no other instance of this Gull's occurrence in India is known, I do not enumerate it amongst Indian species. It is one of the Gulls with head black in summer and white in winter, and if found it may be recognized by its small size (wing 8.75 only) and by all the quills in adults being grey with white tips.