Animal Species:Silver Gull

The Silver Gull has become a successful scavenger, readily pestering humans for handouts of scraps, pilfering from unattended food containers or searching for human refuse at tips.

Silver Gull in flight

S Humphreys © Australian Museum

Standard Common Name

Silver Gull

Identification

The Silver Gull has a white head, tail and underparts, with a light grey back and black-tipped wings. In adult birds the bill, legs and eye-ring are bright orange-red.

Size range

40 cm to 45 cm

Similar Species

Pacific Gull, Kelp Gull

Distribution

The Silver Gull is common throughout Australia and is also found in New Zealand and New Caledonia.

Habitat

The Silver Gull is found at virtually any watered habitat and is rarely seen far from land. Birds flock in high numbers around fishing boats as these leave or return to the coast, but seldom venture far out to sea.

Feeding and Diet

As with many other gull species, the Silver Gull has become a successful scavenger, readily pestering humans for handouts of scraps, pilfering from unattended food containers or searching for human refuse at tips. Other food includes worms, fish, insects and crustaceans.

Communication

The most common call is a harsh 'kwee-aarr'.

Mating and reproduction

Silver Gulls nest in large colonies on offshore islands. Often two broods will be raised in a year, and both adults share nest-building, incubation and feeding duties. Eggs are laid in a shallow nest scrape, lined with vegetation.

  • Breeding Season: At any time, usually August to November
  • Clutch size: 3

Conservation Status

With greater access to a wide range of dietary items, the Silver Gull has been able to increase its population in areas of human activity. Available nesting grounds appear to be the only limiting factor to population increases.

Classification

Species:
novaehollandiae
Genus:
Larus
Family:
Laridae
Order:
Charadriiformes
Class:
Aves
Subphylum:
Vertebrata
Phylum:
Chordata
Kingdom:
Animalia

What does this mean?

References

  • Pringle, J.D. 1987. The Shorebirds of Australia. Angus and Robertson and the National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Sydney.


Ondine Evans , Web Researcher/Editor
Last Updated:

Tags silver gull, birds, seabirds, biby,

2 comments

Jaynia Sladek - 2.10 PM, 19 October 2011

Hi Melinda, no, you're not dreaming. Silver Gulls (Larus novaehollandiae) do indeed have differently coloured eye rings depending on their age and breeding status. Young birds in their first immature plumage that are not yet breeding have a dark eye ring and iris, making their eyes look quite large and uniformly dark. Birds in the first immature plumage that are breeding have a black eye ring and a lighter iris than non-breeders, making the eye ring stand out more. Birds in their second immature plumage, regardless of breeding status, have an eye ring that can vary from black to orange-red or dark red . Adult birds, also regardless of breeding status, have a bright red eye ring. I hope this clears up the mystery for you! Cheers, Jaynia

bluebiz - 8.09 PM, 12 September 2011
Hi I'm from Eastern Australias and have always noticed silver gulls to have red rings around their eyes. When I got to WA earlier in the year, I noticed all the gulls seemed to have black rings around their eyes. Yet when I was in Ceduna or Streaky Bay SA(can't remember which) there seemed to be a mix of birds with both red and black rims. Am I dreaming? Thanks. Mel.

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