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(Payraudeau, 1826, Sardinia and Corsica)
The Audouin's gull (Ichthyaetus audouinii) is a large gull restricted to the Mediterranean and the western coast of Saharan Africa. It breeds on small islands colonially or alone, laying 2-3 eggs on a ground nest. As is the case with many gulls, it has traditionally been placed in the genus Larus.
In the late 1960s, this was one of the World's rarest gulls, with a population of only 1,000 pairs. It has established new colonies, but remains rare with a population of about 10,000 pairs.
This species, unlike many large gulls, rarely scavenges, but is a specialist fish eater, and is therefore strictly coastal and pelagic. This bird will feed at night, often well out to sea, but also slowly patrols close into beaches, occasionally dangling its legs to increase drag.
The adult basically resembles a small European herring gull, the most noticeable differences being the short stubby red bill and "string of pearls" white wing primary tips, rather than the large "mirrors" of some other species. The legs are grey-green. It takes four years to reach adult plumage.
This species shows little tendency to wander from its breeding areas, but there were single records in the Netherlands and England in May 2003.
This bird is named after the French naturalist Jean Victoire Audouin.
The Audouin's gull is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.
- BirdLife International (2006). Larus audouinii. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is near threatened
- Pons J.M., Hassanin, A., and Crochet P.A.(2005). Phylogenetic relationships within the Laridae (Charadriiformes: Aves) inferred from mitochondrial markers. Molecular phylogenetics and evolution 37(3):686-699