Hybridisation in gulls
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Hybridisation in gulls occurs quite frequently, although to varying degrees depending on the species involved.
Hybrid large white-headed gulls
- Herring gull and lesser black-backed gull interbreed to a limited degree where their ranges overlap, producing birds of intermediate appearance, which could be confused with yellow-legged gull. In North America, this combination is often known as "Appledore gull".
- Western gull and glaucous-winged gull hybridise extensively in western North America. Evidence of genetic influence of each upon the other is found throughout the range of both species. This particular hybrid is sometimes known as the "Olympic gull", or "Puget Sound gull".
- Great black-backed gull and herring gull have hybridized in eastern North America, particularly the Great Lakes. This hybrid is sometimes known as "Great Lakes gull".
- Herring gull and glaucous gull hybridise to a limited extent in Greenland, Iceland and Alaska. The offspring have been termed "Nelson's gull", but are sometimes also known as "Viking gull".
- Herring gull and glaucous-winged gull hybridize extensively in southern Alaska. The offspring are sometimes termed "Cook Inlet gull".
- Glaucous-winged gull and glaucous gull hybridize in western Alaska. These hybrids are sometimes called "Seward gull".
- Herring gull and kelp gull have hybridized in Louisiana. This combination has been termed "Chandeleur gull". This hybrid is interesting as Louisiana is outside of the normal breeding range of both parent species.
- It is believed by some that the Kumlien's race of the Iceland gull may be a hybrid population between Iceland gull and Thayer's gull. No pure Thayer's gulls are known to occur within the range of Kumlien's although many Kumlien's within their range are almost indistinguishable from Thayer's gull, while others look like pure Iceland gulls with a range of variation in between.
Hybrids among the smaller gulls
- The most common hybrid found among gulls in Europe is between black-headed gull and Mediterranean gull. Hybrids of this combination are occasionally reported on the northwestern edge of the breeding range of Mediterranean gull.
- Birds have also been reported in Europe which have been suspected of being Mediterranean gull × common gull hybrids; one such gull was seen in Lincolnshire in 2002.
- A bird seen in December 2001 at Belhaven Bay, Lothian, and present each winter since (until at least 2005/6) is believed to be a hybrid between black-headed and common gulls.
- More rarely, hybrids have been reported between laughing gull and black-headed gull, laughing gull and ring-billed gull and possibly black-headed and ring-billed gull. All have been reported from eastern North America.
- Common Gull is known to have hybridised with Ring-billed Gull in Northern Ireland.
- Steve N. G. Howell, Jon Dunn (2007). A Reference Guide to Gulls of the Americas. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 479. ISBN 0618726411.
- Malling Olsen, Klaus and Hans Larsson (2003) Gulls of Europe, Asia and North America Helm Identification Guides ISBN 0-7136-7087-8, page 193-4
- Tarrant, Mike (2002) An apparent hybrid gull in Lincolnshire Birding World Vol. 15 No. 6 p247
- Gillon, Keith (2006) An apparent hybrid gull at Belhaven Bay, Lothian Birding Scotland Vol. 9 No. 2 p92
- Charles, D. (2008) Ring-billed Gull breeding with Common Gull on Copeland Islands Co. Down. The first confirmed breeding record for Ring-billed Gull in the Western Palearctic. Northern Ireland Bird Report xviii p. 122.