Bill and legs bright red: tarsus one inch ten lines: a large white space in the middle of the primaries: in summer, a deep brown hood reaching below the occiput.
L. ridibundus, Temm. Man. d'Orn. torn. ii. p. 780. Black-headed Gull, Mont. Orn. Diet, & Supp. Selb. Illust. vol. ii. p. 486 pl. 92. Black-headed and Red-legged Gulls, Bew. Brit. Birds, vol. ii. pp. 222, & 225.
Entire length seventeen inches: length of the bill (from the forehead) one inch four lines, (from the gape) two inches one line; of the tarsus one inch ten lines; of the middle toe, nail included, one inch eight lines; of the tail four inches eight lines; from the carpus to the end of the wing twelve inches nine lines: breadth, wings extended, three feet three inches five lines.
(Winter plumage). Head, neck, and tail, pure white, with the exception of a small black spot at the anterior angle of the eye, and a dusky patch on the ear-coverts: back, scapulars, secondary quills, and greater portion of the wing-coverts, pale bluish ash; some of the long coverts annexed to the primaries, as well as the spurious winglet, white: primaries themselves white, passing into dusky ash towards the margins of the inner webs, and broadly tipped with black; (according to Tem-minck, in very old birds, the extreme tips of the primaries are white;) first primary with the outer web black from the base nearly to the tip, the inner edging of dusky ash very narrow; under surface of the wings dark ash-gray: breast, belly, and abdomen, white, in some individuals faintly tinged with tiesh-red: irides deep brown: bill and legs bright vermilion-red. (Summer plumage). Head, and upper part of the neck, deep brown; at the posterior angle of the eye a white spot; lower part of the neck, and all the under plumage, fine white, tinged with rose-red: bill and legs deep purplish red: the rest as in winter. (Young of the year). Head and occiput very pale brown; a large white spot behind the eyes: under parts, and a collar on the nape, white; the white on the front of the neck with a faint reddish tinge; flanks with brown crescent-shaped marks: back, scapulars, and middle coverts, deep brown, the feathers with yellowish edges; upper edge of the wing, rump, and greater part of the tail-feathers, white, these last tipped with dusky brown: primaries white at the base and on the inner webs, black on the outer, and at the tips; greater coverts bluish ash: bill livid at the base; the tip black legs yellowish. After the first autumnal moult, the back and wings are bluish ash, with a few brown feathers intermixed, some of those on the wings still with yellowish edges: forehead, and all the under parts, pure white; head white, spotted with pale ash-colour; ear-coverts, and a spot at the anterior angle of the eye, brown: tail still with a dark bar at its tip: bill reddish at the base; the tip brown. In this state they remain till the following spring, when they assume the perfect summer plumage. (Egg). Yellowish olive-brown, spotted with two shades of darker brown: long. diam. two inches one line and a half; trans, diam. one inch six lines.
A common species; frequenting inland marshes and the banks of rivers. Resorts to the sea-coast in Winter. Breeds in fens and low swampy meadows, laying three eggs on tufts of grass previously trodden down. Food, insects, worms, and small fish. Obs. The Red-legged Gull (L. cinerarius, Gmel). is this species in its winter plumage. The Brown-headed Gull (L. erythropus, Gmel). is the young of the year after the first autumnal moult.