1490. Lams ridibundus.
The Laughing Gall.
Larus ridibundus, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 225 (1766); Blyth, Cat. p. 289; Irby, Ibis, 1861, p. 246; Hume, S. F. i, p. 278; Adam, ibid. p. 403; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xiv, pt. 2, p. 85 ; Hume, S. F. iv, pp. 413,418; vii, pp. 98, 497 ; id. Cat. no. 981 ; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 94; Butler, ibid. p. 439; Scully, Ibis, 1881, p. 594; Oates, B. H. ii, p. 418; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 425 ; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 349; St. John, Ibis, 1889, p. 180; Sharpe, Yark. Miss., Aves, p. 134; Saunders, Cat. B. M. xxv, p. 207. Xema ridibunda, Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 832; Hume & Henders. Lah. To Yark. p. 301.
Coloration. In summer the whole head and upper neck are deep brown, varying from sepia to chocolate-brown; neck all round, lower parts, rump, and tail white; mantle pearl-grey; the first five primaries and their coverts white except that the tip, greater part of outer web and inner border of the 1st primary are black; the 2nd is similar except that there is less black on the outer border; the 3rd has the tip, broad inner border, and a fringe running some distance up the outer border black; the black at the end increases on the 4th and 5th quills, but grey begins to replace the white; in the inner primaries the black disappears and the feathers become grey ; the secondaries are pale grey like the mantle.
In winter the head is white, generally slightly mixed with brown on the nape, and with brown patches in front of each eye and behind the ear-coverts. The brown hood is assumed about February.
Young birds are at first brown above, but soon become white on the head and grey on the mantle, some of the wing-coverts and the tertiaries remaining brown longest; the end of the tail is black, the black bar diminishing on the outer rectrices ; the primaries have the borders and the ends black and a white band running down the middle.
Bill and legs deep red, irides dark brown (Jerdon); edge of orbit deep carmine (Dresser). In young birds the bill is dull yellow, legs and feet dull reddish yellow.
Length 16; tail 4.75; wing 12; tarsus 1.75; bill from gape 1.8.
Distribution, This Gull breeds in temperate Europe and Asia and passes the winter in Africa and Southern Asia, ranging to the Philippines. It is common at that season in Kashmir and Northern India and is found on the west coast as far south as Travancore, but to the eastward it has only been observed about the head of the Bay of Bengal. Godwin-Austen obtained it in Assam, and Hume in Manipur, but it does not appear to have been observed in Burma.
Habits, &c. The Laughing Gull in India is found alike on the sea-coast and about large rivers, marshes, and the larger tanks. It breeds inland, but has not been recorded as nesting within our area. Dr. Leith Adams, it is true (P. Z. S. 1858, p. 509), states that, it breeds on the fresh and salt-water lakes of Ladak, but he omits all reference to the species in his subsequent account (P. Z. S. 1859) of the birds of that area.