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Lards

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LARDS, the gull, in natural history, a genus of birds of the order Anseres. Ge neric character bill strong, straight, sharp edged, bending down somewhat at the tip; lower mandible exhibiting an an gular prominence ; nostrils in the middle of the bill ; body light ; wings long; legs small, and naked above the knee ; back toe small. They inhabit principally the northern climates, subsisting on carrion, and on fishes. They are reported, when greatly alarmed, almost universally to throw up from their stomach the food they have recently swallowed. Gmelin reckons fifteen species, and Latham nine teen. L, marinus, is twenty-nine inches in length, and of the weight of five pounds. It is found in various parts of England, and on most of the northerd coasts of Europe. It breeds in the most elevated cliffs, laying its eggs on heaps of dung deposited by various birds. It feeds principally on fishes, but sometimes attacks birds, and is said to bear a parti cular enmity to the eider-duck. See Ayes, Plate IX. fig. 2, L. fuscus, or the herring gull, is some what less than the former, frequents the same situations, and subsists, like that, chiefly upon fish. In the herring season it is seen watching the nets of the fisher men, and is daring enough frequently to seize its prey from the boats and nets.

L. canus, is sixteen inches long, and about a pound in weight. It breeds on the rocks and cliffs on the British coasts ; and on the batiks of the Thames, near its union with the sea, may be seen in im mense numbers, picking up the worms and small fishes deposited by the tide. It will also follow the course of the plough over the fields, and delights in the insects and worms which are thrown up by it. The cockchafer, in its larva state, is a particular favourite with this bird. See Ayes, Plate IX. fig. I.

ridihundus, the blackcap, or pewit gull, breeds in the fens of Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire, and, after the season of breeding is over, returns to the coasts. In'some parts of Syria these birds are so familiar as to approach on being called, and to catch pieces of bread in the air as they are thrown up from the hands of the women. The old birds of this species are both rank and tough, but the young are eaten by many persons, and were formerly much admired for the table, taken so young as to be unable to fly. The particular islets in the fenny wastes of Lincolnshire, which used to be preferred by these birds for breeding, were every year in winter cleared of weeds, rushes, and other impediments, in preparation for their return in large flocks to breed in the spring, and when the young had attained the precise growth, several men were employed with long staves to hurry them into nets spread fbr their reception. This process constituted

a favourite diversion, and the rich and fashionable assembled to be spectators of it from a considerable distance. The birds were sold at the rate. of five shil lings per dozen, and in the details of royal and noble feasts, will be found to have constituted an article of high and almost indispensable importance.

L. catarractus, or the brown gull, weighs about three pounds. It is more frequent in the cold than in the warmer latitudes, and is perhaps the most daring and fierce of all the species. In the Faro islands, lambs are stated to be often torn to pieces by it, and carried to its nest. On the island of Foula, however, it is said to be highly valued on account of its en mity to the eagle, which it attacks, and follows with the most animated hostility, in this instance becoming the means of security to flocks. It frequently makes prey of the smaller gulls and of other birds, and is often observed to watch the movements of birds on the water, and as they are bearing off their prey in triumphs and imagined security, to pounce upon them with amazing rapidity, obliging them to drop their victims, which in the same instant are intercepted by this rapa cious intruder. Even the albatross, when on the wing, though so much larger than this bird, is by no means a match for it in strength and courage, and finds its effectual resource only in alighting upon the water, which it clues with all possible rapidity, when the skua immediately ceases to annoy it. During the season of incubation, the skua gull will attack every creature approaching its habitation, not excepting the human species, several of whom have been assailed by it in com pany, with an energy and fury truly for midable. Its feathers are in high estima tion, and thought by many equal to those of the goose. It is in many places killed merely for these.

L. tridactylus, or the tarrock, breeds in Scotland, and is found so far north as Spit zbergen. It is an attendant on the progress of whales and other large fishes, which drive the smaller •inhabitants of the ocean into creeks and shallows, where the tarrocks suddenly dart on them, ensuring always an easy and full repast. They are very clamorous, swim and fly well, are often seen on pieces of ice, are used by the inhabitants of Greenland for fbod, their eggs being highly valued for the same purpose, while their skins are converted into materials for caps and garments. For the black-toed gull, see Axes, Plate IX. fig. 3.