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Silver Gull - BirdForum Opus

Adult Silver Gull C. n. novaehollandiae
Photo © by Peter Day
Swanport Wetlands, Murray Bridge, Adelaide, South Australia, 2 April 2016.
Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae

Larus novaehollandiae
Includes Red-billed Gull

Identification

Adult Red-billed Gull C. n. scopulinus
Photo © by Janha
Invercargill, New Zealand, 12 October 2004.

38-43 cm (15-17 in)

  • White head, tail and underparts
  • Pale grey back and wings
    • Wings black-tipped with white 'mirrors'
  • Reddish, legs and eye-ring
  • Reddish-orange bill
  • White iris

Young Birds: lack the red eye-ring, have a black bill which turns red as they mature.

Similar species

None within its Australian range, but in New Zealand, care is needed to distinguish the rare Black-billed Gull, which shares the white iris and unmarked white head, but has a slenderer black bill, slightly less black on the primaries, and in summer, also darker legs. Within the genus Chroicocephalus, Slender-billed Gull also shares the white iris and unmarked white head, but does not occur anywhere nearby.

Distribution

Australia, New Zealand and surrounding islands.

Taxonomy

Immature C. n. novaehollandiae (front) & two adults.
Photo © by Neil Fifer
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 3 December 2004

As with other species of Chroicocephalus, Silver Gull was formerly placed in the genus Larus.

Subspecies

Three subspecies recognised, split into two species by Clements1 and formerly by IOC2, but not more recently by IOC3 nor by Christidis et al.4

  • C. n. forsteri now restricted to New Caledonia, and the Loyalty Islands: Distinctly different wing pattern. Formerly considered to reach Northern Australia8.
  • C. n. novaehollandiae in Australia and Tasmania: Longer, less arched bill.
  • C. n. scopulinus (Red-billed Gull; syn. C. scopulinus) in New Zealand, Chatham, Auckland and adjacent islands: Shorter, stubbier, more arched bill and a more squared pattern of white in its wing-tips when seen in flight.

Some authorities also recognise C. n. gunni in Tasmania, but it intergrades clinally with C. n. novaehollandiae5.

Habitat

Subadult C. n. novaehollandiae
Photo © by Ken Doy
Wellington Point, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 11 September 2017

Near water, both coastal and inland wetlands. Sandy and rocky shores, parks, beaches and rubbish dumps.

Behaviour

Diet

They have a very varied diet, consisting of crustaceans, squid, insects, small fish, frogs and birds. They also scavenge from rubbish dumps.

Breeding

They nest in large colonies on offshore islands. Both adults share nest-building, incubation and feeding duties. The clutch consists of 3 eggs which are laid in a shallow nest scrape, lined with vegetation. There may be two broods raised in a year.

Vocalisation

Adult C. n. novaehollandiae
Photo © by Kay Simpson
The Spit Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, 22 September 2015

Call: a high pitched, raucous scrark.

References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2010. IOC World Bird Names (version 2.7). Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/.
  3. Gill, F & D Donsker (Eds). 2018. IOC World Bird List (v8.2). doi : 10.14344/IOC.ML.8.2. Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/
  4. Christidis et al. 2018. The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World, version 4.1 (Downloadable checklist). Accessed from https://www.howardandmoore.org.
  5. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliot, and J Sargatal, eds. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8487334207
  6. Burger, J. & Gochfeld, M. (2017). Red-billed Gull (Larus scopulinus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from http://www.hbw.com/node/53992 on 11 February 2017).
  7. BF Member observations
  8. Higgins, P.J. & Davies, S.J.J.F. (editors) 1996. Handbook of Australian , New Zealand & Antarctic Birds. Volume 3, Snipe to pigeons. Melbourne, Oxford University Press. [Vol. 2, pages 648-649] Vol. 3, pages 384-385, 468-470, 517-545; plates 32 & 34.
  9. Mills, J.A. 2013. Red-billed gull. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Online. http://www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz

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