1489. Larus ichthyaetus.
The Great Black-headed, Gull.
Larus ichthyaetus, Pall. Reis. Puss. Reichs, ii, p. 713 (1773) ; Blyth, Cat. p. 288; Hume, S. F. i, p. 276; Le Messurier, S. F. iii, p. 382; Ball, S. F. vii, p. 233; Hume, ibid. p. 497; id. Cat. no. 979; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 1046 ; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 94: Butler, ibid. p. 439 ; Biddulph, Ibis, 1882, p. 289 ; Reid, S. F. x, p. 453 ; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 414; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 424; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 348; Saunders, Cat. B. M. xxv, p. 176. Kroikocephalus ichthyaetus, Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 831. Larus innominatus, Hume, S. F. viii, p. 394 (1879) ; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 416.
Coloration. In summer the whole head and upper neck are black except two small patches of white feathers on the eyelids, one above, one below; neck all round, lower parts, tail, and tail-coverts white ; mantle (back, rump, scapulars, tertiaries, and wing-coverts) pale grey with a slaty tinge; first five primaries and their coverts white; outer web of 1 st primary except near the end and a patch of varying extent on the inner web black, and a broad black subterminal bar of varying form on the next 4 or 5 quills ; the remaining primaries grey on the inner web, the grey extending on the secondaries to both webs, only a border of white remaining.
In winter the head is white, more or less mixed and streaked with brownish black. The black hood is assumed about February.
Young birds are brown above, the feathers with pale edges; head mostly white; lower parts white, spotted and mottled with pale brown on the sides of the neck and upper breast; quills dark brown, the secondaries edged white; upper tail-coverts and basal two-thirds of tail white, terminal third of tail blackish brown, tipped white. There is a gradual change to grey in the mantle, and the amount of black on the earlier primaries decreases with age.
Bill wax-yellow, with a transverse subterminal black band, gape and tip dull crimson; bill in young birds dark brown; irides deep brown; legs and feet dull Indian yellow (Anderson).
Length 26; tail 7.5; wing 19; tarsus 3; bill from gape 3 to 3.8.
Distribution. This large Gull breeds in Central Asia from the Caspian Sea to Eastern Turkestan, and migrates in winter to Southern Asia and North-eastern Africa. It has not been obtained farther east than Burma, and in Tenasserim has only been observed at Amherst, but it is not rare in Northern India and in Pegu in well-watered tracts, and it is occasionally found, though it is by no means common, throughout the Peninsula and in Ceylon. A remarkably small female (wing 16.5)from Gopalpur near Ganjam, with much black on the primaries, was separated by Hume as L. innominatus, hut is not regarded as distinct by Saunders, nor does the difference appear to me to be of specific importance.
Habits, &c. The Great Black-headed Gull is found inland about large rivers and large pieces of water, as well as on the coast. It is a bird of graceful and powerful flight.