(2185) Sula sula rubripes.
THE AUSTRALIAN RED-LEGGED GANNET.
Sula rubripes Gould, Syn. B. of Aus., pt. iv, App. p. 7 (1838) (Raine Island, Queensland). Sula piscatrix. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 347.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Primaries, secondaries and greater wing-coverts blackish-brown, the visible portion washed with silver-grey; remaining plumage white, often washed or stained with fulvous.
Colours of soft parts. Iris grey ; bill red, paler and more flesh-coloured in the young; bare skin of face pale purplish, red in the breeding-season ; pouch pink flesh-colour; legs and feet red. Tail-feathers fourteen.
Measurements. Wing 403 to 421 mm.: tail 219 to 228 mm.; tarsus about 40 to 43 mm.; culmen 90 to 97, once 88 mm.
Young birds have the head, neck and underparts silvery yellowish-brown, the underparts more grey and darker towards the vent; rest of plumage dark brown.
Nestling in down pure white.
Distribution. Queensland in Australia, the Austro-Malayan islands to the coast of Indo-China, the Malay Peninsula and the Bay of Bengal. Hume also identified a flock of Gannets seen by him on the Laccadives as being of this species. The only Indian -specimen in the British Museum collection was obtained in "The Bay of Bengal."
Nidification. The Red-legged Gannet breeds on rocks and islands in colonies, often of great size, laying one or two white, rather chalky-surfaced eggs. The nest varies from one composed of a few sticks or a mass of weeds and grass to a big substantial platform of sticks, placed on low shrubby growth a foot or so from the ground.
The birds sit very close and when the eggs are advanced in incubation, or there are young in the nests, the parents have to be ejected from them by force.
Habits. Those of the genus.