Larus argentatus, Gmel. Syst. Nat. i. p. 600 (1788) ; Naum. x. p. 379, Taf. 266 ; Hewitson, ii. p. 499, pl. cxl. ; Gould, B. of E. v. pl. 434 ; id. B. of Gt. Brit. v. pl. 59 ; Dresser, viii. p. 399, pl. 602. fig. 1 ; Saunders, Cat. B. Br. Mus. xxv. p. 260 ; id. Manual, p. 673 ; Ridgway, p. 30 : Lilford, vi. p. 51. pl. 23 ; L. smithsonianus, Coues Proc. Philad. Ac. 1862, p. 296 ; Ridgway, p. 31.
Goeland argente, French ; Gaivota, Alcatraz, Portug. : Gaviota, Gavinot, Span. ; Silbermowe, German ; Zilvermeeuw, Dutch ; Graa-Havmaage, Dan. ; Saing, Stor-Graamaage, Norweg. ; Gratrut, Swed. ; Harmaa-lokki, Finn. ; Tschaika-serebristarga, Russ.
Male ad. (Orkneys). Head, neck, rump, tail, and entire under parts white ; mantle delicate light French-grey, the larger wing-coverts, secondaries, and scapulars broadly tipped, with white ; first primary blackish, towards the tip white with a subapical black band, the next two grey at the base, then black with a large white spot at the tip, the rest grey, subapically black, and tipped with white ; beak pale yellow with a large red spot at the angle of the lower mandible ; legs and feet flesh- colour ; iris yellowish grey, the edge of the eyelids yellow. Culmen 2.65, wing 16.7, tail 6.75, tarsus 2.5. In winter similar, but the head and neck are striated with pale brown.
Hab. Northern Europe to the North Cape, east to the White Sea ; rare in Greenland ; in winter south to the Mediterranean basin, Black and Caspian Seas ; America, from the high north to Maine, passing south in winter to the Bermudas, Cuba, Mexico, and Southern California.
In the winter season it frequents the coasts, inlets, and estuaries, where it finds small fish, especially herring fry, plentiful, for its food consists of small fish, fish fry, mollusca, crustaceans, clams, mussels, &c. ; the last it takes up in the air to some height and drops on the stones to break the shell, and it also visits ploughed land in search of worms and insects. It is also a great egg robber. It nests on cliffs, small islands, and in America even on trees, sometimes building a bulky nest of grass straws and dry herbage, at others the nest is a mere depression in the ground with scarcely any lining. In May, 3 eggs are deposited, which in ground-colour vary from brownish grey to dull olive-brown with violet-grey shell blotches and dark brown surface spots and blotches, in size measuring about 2.8 by 1.9.
1144. Larus asgentatus