Crown and occiput pale buff; quills black; the rest of the plumage white.
S. alba, Temm. Man. d'Orn. torn. 11. p. 905. Gannet, Mont. Orn. Diet, & Supp. Bew. Brit. Birds, vol. 11. p. 390. Solan Gannet, Selb. Illust. vol. 11. p. 455. pls. 86*, & 87.
Entire length three feet.
(Adult in perfect plumage). Crown of the head, and occiput, pale buff-yellow; all the rest of the plumage milk-white, with the exception of the quills and bastard winglet, which are black: bill bluish gray at the base, the tip white: naked skin surrounding the eyes pale blue: at the corners of the mouth a dusky membrane having the appearance of being a prolongation of the gape: chin destitute of feathers, and of a dusky colour; capable of great distention, forming a kind of pouch: irides yellow: acrotarsia and acrodactyla with longitudinal streaks of pale green; membranes dusky; claws white: tail-feathers strong and pointed: twelve in number; the middle ones longest. (Young during the first year). All the upper plumage dusky brown; under parts brown, varied with ash-gray: bill, naked membranes, and irides, brown: tail simply rounded. After the second moult, the head, neck and breast, are grayish black, with a small triangular white spot at the tip of each feather: back, rump, and wings, the same, but the spots on these parts larger and more scattered: abdomen whitish, the feathers margined with cinereous brown: quills and tail grayish black; the latter more conical, with the shafts of the feathers white: bill grayish brown, whitish towards the tip: acrotarsia and acrodactyla greenish brown; the longitudinal streaks grayish white: membranes cinereous brown: claws whitish. At each succeeding moult the plumage becomes whiter, till the commencement of the fourth year, when it is fully matured. (Egg). Dull white, tinged with green: long. diam. three inches three lines; trans, diam. one inch ten lines.
Plentiful during the breeding season on some parts of the northern coasts, particularly in the Isle of Bass in the Frith of Forth, St. Kilda, and some other of the Scotch Islands. Migrates southward in the Autumn, and, during Winter, may be observed in most parts of the British channel. At such times generally keeps far out at sea, but has been killed inland in a few rare instances. Feeds on herrings, pilchards, and other fish, on which it darts with great force and velocity. Nest placed on steep inaccessible rocks. Lays a single egg.
Man. d'Orn, torn. ii. p. 891. Pelican, Mont. Orn. Diet. Supp. Gould, Europ. Birds, partxii.
An individual of this species, which is a native of Eastern Europe, is recorded (according to Montagu) to have been shot in England, in May 1663, at Horsey Fen. It is conjectured, however, that it might have escaped from confinement.