Revision of the Gulls of North America; Based upon Specimens in the Museum of the Smithsonian Institution

Elliott Coues
1862 Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia  
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Differs from P. Jeffersonius in being comparatively more elevated or ovate: in having smaller ears, and more numerous and narrower ribs, &c. P. E d g e c o m e n s is.-Suborbicular; height not quite equal to the length; lower valve-ribs 16 to 17, prominent, but not elevated, square or convexdepressed, not quite as wide as the intervening spaces, radiately lined with finely squamose strie, most conspicuous towards the margins, interstices of ribs carinated, in the middle squamose and finely striated; ears with fine close unequal squamose radiating lines, the larger ones most prominent on the posterior side; margins of ligament pit carinated. Locality. Edgewood Co., North Carolina. Cab. Smithsonian Institution. Allied to P. eboreus; the carina between the ribs distinguish it from that species. (Miocene.) LYROPECTEN, Conrad. Inequivalve, radiately costate; hinge with a triangular pit as in Pect en and diverging prominent teeth on each side the ligament cavity. Lyropectin (Pallium) e s t r eli an u s, C., Pacific R. R. Reports, 1855, vi. pl. 3, f. 15. This genus is peculiar to the Miocene of the Pacific slope, and appears in three large species, the second of which has been figured and described as Pallium estrellanum, in Pacific Railroad Reports, vol. vii. 191, but is very distinct from that species. I propose to name it Volceformis. L. cr as s i c a r d o.-Suborbicular; ribs 15; larger valve ventricose; ribs rounded, not quite as wide as intervening spaces; whole surface radiately striate with equal lines, about 11 on the ribs and 5 on the interstices ; opposite valve convex, ribs prominent, narrower and more abrupt than in the large valve, disposed to be concentrically nodulous or undulated by broad concentric furrows, and sometimes an abrupt concentric truncation. Locality. California. OSTRIADAIE. OSTREA, Lin. 0. f a 1 c if o r m i s.-Falcate, radiately ribbed; ribs numerous, regular, close, rounded, crossed by squamous lines; ribs small on the anterior depression; margins plicated, not crenulated; ligament cavity oblique. Locality. Enterpise, Clark Co., Miss. Dr. Spillman. (Eocene.) Revision of the GULLS of North America; based upon specimens in the Xuseum of the Smithsonian Institution. BY ELLIOTT COUES. The present paper is an abstract of a more extenced Monograph on the Galls of North America, prepared for publication in a Government Report. 1862.] 292 PROCEEDINGS OF THE ACADEMY OF As some time, however, may elapse before the appearance of the Report, it has been thought advisable to issue in advance this brief sketch of the subject. Except in the cases of one or two species, everything not absolutely necessary to the proper understanding of the subject has been omitted. In the Monograph alluded to will be found references to the pages of the works of the authors cited; descriptions of the various changes and stages of plumage; together with a discussion of doubtful points of synonymy, and the arguments for the views entertained. It is also illustrated by figures of the bills of all the species, and colored drawings of the primary quills, showing the outlines and extent of their markings. The gulls of North America are worked up to the fullest extent that the specimens at my command allow; but, in the apparent hopelessness of arriving at ultimate truth with regard to these birds, I am prepared to relinquish any of the views now entertained which future investigation may prove to be erroneous. Family LARID%E. The family Laridn, embracing the Jagers, Gulls, Terns and Skimmers is divisible into four subfamilies, which may be distinguished by the following brief diagnosis: LESTRIDINE.-Covering of upper mandible not continuous, the basal half with a somewhat horny overlapping plate, differing in character from the terminal portion; the nostrils opening beneath it, but slightly above the cutting edge, and beyond the middle of the bill. Tail cuneate, the central feathers projecting, usually tapering and much elongated, the lateral stiff and acuminate. Interdigital webs more or less rounded. Body full, stout; size usually moderate. LARINA.-Covering of bill continuous. Bill more or less robust, the culmen about straight to the nostrils, abruptly decurved to the tip, which overhangs the tip of the lower mandible. An angular projection at the symphysis of the lower jaw more or less prominent. Nostrils at the end of the basal half of the bill. Tail generally even, the feathers being all of the same character. Webs more or less indented. Inner lateral toe moderate. Body robust; size very large or moderate. STERNINE.-Covering of bill continuous. Bill slender and tapering to a very acute point, the tip not abruptly decurved, nor overhanging the lower mandible. Curve of culmen and commissure regular and gradual from base to tip. Angle of lower mandible scarcely apparent. Nostrils on the bassal third of the bill. First primary greatly longer than the second. Tail generally forked. Inner lateral toes very short. Webs indented. Body rather slender and graceful; size moderate or very small. RnYNCnOPSINA3.-Bill excessively compressed, like the blade of a knife. Upper mandible abrutptly shorter than the lower. Otherwise generally as in Sternince We have at present only to do with the second of these groups, the Subfamily LARINA. Of the many genera into which the Gulls have been divided by systematic writers, North America contains representatives of eight, which seem to differ in well marked characters. They may be arranged in two sections and very briefly defined as follows: A.-LAREPA. Size very large, large, or moderate. Body robust, general organization more or less powerful. Bill stout and deep, the angle prominent, the tip obtuse, seldom attenuated or much decurved. Tail never cuneate or decidedly [June, NATURAL SCIENCES OF PHILADELPHIA. 293 forked. Legs rather stout; hind toe sometimes rudimental. Head never with a hood; in winter with the neck streaked with dusky. Under parts white without a decided roseate tint. 1. Larus.-Size large or moderate. Bill stout, robust, obtuse, the tip not attenuated, the angle usually very prominent. Convexity of culmen great at the ends. Color white, nearly always with a darker mantle. Tail even. 2. Blasipus.-Size moderate. Bill rather slender, its tip somewhat attenuated. General color dusky. Tail even, or very slightly emarginate. 3. Rissa.-Size rather small. Bill stout at base, but more attenuated and decurved at the tip. Angle acute, but not very prominent. Hind toe rudimental. Tail even; somewhat emarginate in the young. 4. Pagophila.-Size rather small. Bill short, stout, obtuse. Tarsus very short, stout, arm rough. Tibia partially feathered. Webs excised. Color entirely pure white. B.--XEMEAX. Size moderate, small, or very small. Body more slender, general organization more delicate. Bill generally slenderer and more acute, the angle not very prominent, but acute, the tip decurved and attenuated. Tail variable, even, forked, or cuneate. Legs rather slender. Hind toe always present. Head usually with a hood, or with a black ring round the neck. Under parts white, with a decided roseate tint. 5. Chroicocephalus.--Size moderate and very small. Bill slender, the tip more or less decurved. Tail even. 6. Rhodostethia.-Size small. Bill short and very slender. Neck with a black ring, but head without a hood. Tail cuneate. 7. Xema.-Size small. Bill short, rather slender, the angle acute. Head with a hood and neck with a ring. Tail moderately forked. 8. Creagrus.-" Of medium size; bill very strong and much curved; mantle grayish white; tail deeply forked. "-Lawr. The above brief characters define the genera sufficiently for our present purposes; the aim being rather the determinationi of species than rigid systematic classification. The eleven spe-ies of the genus found in North America may be very naturally arranged under the following sections or subgenera: Section A.-LEucus Bp. (Plantus, Reich. Glaucus, p. Bruch, 1853, Laroides p. Bruch, 1855.) Large and powerful; primaries without any black; upper parts very light. a. Color above entirely white. 1862.] 294 PROCEEDINGS OF THE ACADEMY OF 1. LArus HUTCHINSui Richardson. ?L. glacialis, Benicken (nee Maegill. qui L. qlaucits, Brinn.) Glaucus glac. Bruch, 1853. Laroidesqlac. Bruch, 1855. Leucus arcticus, " Macg. " Bp. 1856, excl. synon. (nec Macg.) Larus Hutchinsii, Richardson, F. B. A. 1831, ii. 419. S). chcr.-Adult: Bill flesh-colored at base, blackish on terminal third. Entire plumage pure wbite, the shafts of the feathers straw yellow. Feet light flesh-color. Young: Head, neck and upper parts mottled with light reddish brown, appearing on the latter as irregular patches, and on the rump as more or less obsolete transverse bars. Under parts a nearly uniform very light reddish brown, the under tail coverts transverselv barred with white. Wings and tail pure white. Length 271 inches; extent 60; wing 17-; bill above 2 40; along gape 3-20. Tarsus 3A40; middle toe and claw 3 50. lab.-Arctic America; North Pacific; New York State! The name "Arcticus Maegill." is usually applied to this bird. Bonaparte adopts the name in his Conspectus, moreover, considering it identical with L. argentatus of Sabinie's Alemoir on the Birds of Greenland. But both these authors speak of a notable amount of blue on the back, -("back pure pearl gray, with a good deal of blue"-" caerulescente-perlaceo.") Moreover, Macgillivray hlimself subsequently says that his arcticus is the leucopterus Faber. I have not been able to find the original description of glacialis of Benicken; but Bruch, who adopts that name, speaks of the "gull-blue" of the upper parts. In the Fauna Boreali-Americana, ii. p. 419, there is given a brief description of a Gull, which is certainly, I think, the present species. The names " arcticuts" and " glacialis" being in my opinion untenable, I adopt that of Hutchinsii, proposed by Richardson. I have no doubt of the validity of the species. This species is now introduced into the Fauna of the United States through a specimen killed in Washington co., New York, and presented to the Smithsonian Institution by Mr. Peter Reid. It was killed in midwinter, while feeding on a dead sheep. Other specimens were collected by Mr. Stimpson in Behring's Straits, while connected with the North Pacific Expedition under Capt. Rodgers, U. S. N. I). Color above very light pearl blue. Primaries like the back, fading insensibly ilnto white at some distance from the tips. 2. LARns GLAUCUs Briinnich. Laros glaucus, Briinn. 1764 et auct. Laroides glauc. Bruch, 1855. Leucus glanc. Bp. 1856. Plantus glauc. Reich. 1853. Larus consul, Boil, 1822. Glauicus cons. Bruch, 1853. Larus islandicus, Edmonston, 1822, nec Edm. 1823. Larts glacialis, Macgill. 1824; (nec Benick.) Lakus leuceretes, Schlelp. L. leucopterus, Vieill. L. giganteus, Benick. fide Bp. Sp. char.-Length 29 inbches; extent 62; wing 18-5. Bill above 2-75, along gape 3-75; height at nostril *80, at angle *85. Tarsus 3,00; middle toe and claw 2-75 (Dimensions sufficient to separate it from leucopterus, the onily other N. A. species in this group, (b.) Hab.-Arctic seas, coming southward in winter. Labrador in summer. 3. LARUS LEUCOPTEizus Faber. L. argentatus, Sub. 1818; nec Briinn., nec auct. L. argentatus, var. Temm. L. arcticus, Macgill. ; (nec Leuc?us arct. " Maeg." Bp. 1856.) Larus leucopterus, Faber; (nec Vieill., qui L. glaitcus, Briinin.) Laroides leutcop. Bruch, 1855. Glaucus leucol). Bruch, 1853. Leucus leucop. Bp. 1856. Plantuts leutcop. Reich. Larus islandicus, Edmonst. 1823, nec 1822. Larus glautcoides, Temm. 1840. Laroides glaucoides et leucopterules, Brehm, fide Bp. [June, NATURAL SCIENCES OF PHILADELPHIA. '295 Sp. char.-Length 24 inches, wing 16-75. Bill above 1-80, rectus 280, depth at angle -65. Tarsus and middle toe and claw 2-26. Hab.-" Arctic seas; Baffin's Bay; Labrador." (Lawr.) c. Color above pearl blue. Primaries about the color of the back to the very tips, which have well-defined, rounded, white apical spots. 4. LARUS GLAUCESCENs Lichtenstein. Larus glaucescens, Licht. Laroides glauc. Bruch, 1855; (nec Glaucus glaucescens, Bruch, 1853, qui Larus chalcopter-us.) Leucus glaucescens, Bp. 1856. Larus glaucopter-us, Kittlitz, fide Bruch. Glaucus glaucopterus, Bruch, 1853. Sp. char. -Bill long and rather weak, the upper mandible projecting considerably beyond the lower, the convexity of the culmen comparatively slight. Angle pretty well defined, the ouLtline between it and the tip about straight. AdulLt: Mantle pearl blue, much the same shade as in argentatus. Primaries slightly deeper than the back, all with rounded, well-defined apical spots of white. First, Base not appreciably lighter than the body of the feather, with a well-defined white spot on both webs, near the end, separated from the white apex by a transverse balnd of the color of the body of the feathers; second, third and fourth, basal portions notably lighter than the terminal, fading into pure white at their junction with the latter, without spots except the apical ones ; fifth, sixth, basal portions the color of the back, fading into white near the end, separated from the white apices by a band (narrowest on the sixth) of the color of the outer primaries. Young of the year.-Bill black. Everywhere deep grayish, somewhat mottled with whitish, the feathers of the back, wings and upper tail coverts edged, tipped and crossed by more or less regular transverse bars of grayish white. Length abont 27 inches, wing 16-75. Bill above 2'25, gape 3-25, height at angle *70; tarsus 2-60, middle toe and claw 2-50. Habitat--Pacific coast of North America. One of the later discoveries, and a very distinct and well-marked species.