Gull (Larinae) | Characteristics, Habitats & Amazing Facts

Name – Gull

Scientific Name : Larinae

Type : Birds 

Age : around twenty years

Diet : Omnivore

Physical Characteristics:

Length : 25 cm To 79 cm

Weight : 68 g To 1.8 kg

Colour : yellow with a red spot for the larger white-headed species and red, dark red or black in the smaller species. 

Skin Type : Feathers

Wingspan : 61 cm To 1.2 m

Current Population : around 22,000,000

Current Population Trend : Decreasing 

Native : southern Chile, Argentina, Australian, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, western Europe.

Facts

Main Prey : fish and marine and freshwater invertebrates, both alive and already dead, terrestrial arthropods and invertebrates such as insects and earthworms, rodents, eggs, carrion, offal, reptiles, amphibians, plant items such as seeds and fruit, human refuse, chips, and even other birds.

Habitat : every continent, including the margins of Antarctica, and are found in the high Arctic.

Predators : tiger sharks and other large, coastal sharks.

Favorite Food : fish and marine and freshwater invertebrates.

Amazing Facts

·         The gulls are omnivorous feeders. They are, in truth, the least specialised of all seabirds, and their anatomy allows them to be equally adept at swimming, flying, and walking. They are better at walking on land than most other seabirds, and the smaller gulls are more manoeuvrable.

·         Gulls have moderately long legs with completely webbed feet, particularly when compared to similar terns. The bill is normally heavy and slightly hooked, with larger species having larger bills than smaller species. The larger white-headed species’ bills are often yellow with a red spot, while the smaller species’ bills are red, dark red, or black.

·         Human and climate impacts are two additional environmental factors that shape bird habitat and distribution. When studying waterbird distribution in wetlands, researchers discovered that changes in salinity, water depth, water body isolation, and hydroperiod affected bird group structure on a species and guild level.

·         Gulls that are known to live in places where there is an abundant mouse season have established a sophisticated method of consuming them over the centuries. The gull first catches the mouse in a field. The gull then flies to a nearby body of water. After that, the gull regurgitates the mouse and immerses it in water. The first-time biologists noticed this behaviour was between mating pairs of gulls.

·         This led them to conclude that the female was washing the mouse after transporting it to the breeding area. When lone gulls, both male and female, were observed doing this, it was eventually suspected that the mouse, being dry the first time it was swallowed, could become trapped in the gull’s throat, a hypothesis that was further corroborated when a male gull struggled

·         Gulls have high levels of site loyalty, returning to the same colony after breeding there once and even breeding in the same place within that colony.

·         Colonies can range from a few pairs to over a hundred thousand pairs, and they can be unique to that gull species or shared with other seabirds. A few species nest alone, and single pairs of band-tailed gulls may breed in other bird colonies.

·         The majority of gulls breed once a year and have consistent breeding seasons that last three to five months. For a few weeks before occupying the colony, gulls congregate around it. Existing pairs reassert their pair bonds, and unpaired birds begin courting. Birds then return to their original territories, while new males create new territories and attempt to court females.

·         Nest construction is also a part of pair bonding. Gull nests are usually herbaceous mats with a central nest cup. Nests are typically constructed on the ground, although a few species, including kittiwakes, which almost always nest in such habitats, and in some cases in trees, create nests on cliffs.

·         Clutch size is usually three eggs, but it may be two in some smaller species and one in the swallow-tailed gull. Birds synchronise their laying inside colonies, with synchronisation being higher in larger colonies, but these levels off after a certain stage.

·         Gull eggs are typically dark tan to brown or dark olive in colour, with dark splotches and scrawl markings that help them blend in. The eggs are incubated by both sexes, with one parent incubating for one to four hours during the day and the other parent incubating during the night.

·         Incubation lasts between 22 and 26 days and starts after the first egg is laid, but it is interrupted before the second egg is laid. This means that the first two chicks are born together, and the third chick is born later. Young chicks are brooded by their parents for about a week, and at least one parent also stays with them until they fledge to protect them.

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