Pacific gull

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Pacific gull
Larus pacificus Bruny Island.jpg
Larus pacificus pacificus Adventure Bay, Tasmania, Australia
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Laridae
Genus: Larus
Species: L. pacificus
Binomial name
Larus pacificus
Latham, 1802
Subspecies

L. p. pacificus Latham, 1802
L. p. georgis King, 1826

The Pacific gull (Larus pacificus) is a very large gull, native to the coasts of Australia. It is moderately common between Carnarvon in the west, and Sydney in the east, although it has become scarce in some parts of the south-east, as a result of competition from the kelp gull, which has "self-introduced" since the 1940s.

Much larger than the ubiquitous silver gull, and nowhere near as common, Pacific gulls are usually seen alone or in pairs, loafing around the shoreline, steadily patrolling high above the edge of the water, or (sometimes) zooming high on the breeze to drop a shellfish or sea urchin onto rocks.

Taxonomy[edit]

The Pacific gull was first described by English ornithologist John Latham in 1802 from a Thomas Watling drawing, where the local name had been recorded as Troo-gad-dill.[2] Its specific epithet refers to the Pacific Ocean.

Two subspecies are recognised: the nominate race pacificus from the east coast, and georgii from South Australia and Western Australia. They have salt glands that secrete salty water through the nostrils.

Description[edit]

Juvenile

Pacific gulls are the only large gulls in their range, besides the occasional kelp gull. This species can range in length from 58 to 66 cm (23 to 26 in) and span 137 to 157 cm (54 to 62 in) across the wings.[3] They typically weigh from 900 to 1,180 g (1.98 to 2.60 lb).[4] This species is mostly white, with dark wings and back, and a very thick (when compared to other gull species), powerful, red-tipped yellow bill. Young birds are mottled-brown all over, and attain their adult plumage only gradually: by its fourth year, a young Pacific gull has usually become difficult to tell apart from an adult bird.

There are two subspecies: the nominate eastern race prefers sheltered beaches, the western race georgii is commonly found even on exposed shores. Both subspecies nest in pairs or loose colonies on offshore islands, making a cup of grasses and sticks in an exposed position, and laying two or three mottled brown eggs.

References[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Larus pacificus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ ""Pacific Gull", native name "Troo-gad-dill"". First Fleet Artwork Collection. The Natural History Museum. 2007. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 
  3. ^ Harrison, Peter, Seabirds: An Identification Guide. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (1991), ISBN 978-0-395-60291-1
  4. ^ del Hoyo, J; Elliot, A; Sargatal, J (1996). Handbook of the Birds of the World 3. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 84-87334-20-2.