The gull, or commonly known as the seagull bird, is a seabird of the order Lari. Until the 21st century, most gulls were classified in the genus Larus, but this arrangement is now considered multi-family, leading to the resurrection of several genera. The gull's old name is mews, which is homologous to German Möwe, Danish måge, Swedish mås, Dutch meeuw, Norwegian måse, and French mouette, and can still be found in some regional dialects. Gulls are typically medium to large-sized birds, usually gray or white in colour, with black markings on their heads and wings. They usually emit harsh moans or screams, have long and strong beaks, and webbed feet. Most gull birds are carnivores that build nests on the ground and feed in lively or opportunistic ways.
Live food usually includes crustaceans, mollusks, fish, and small birds. Gull has loose jaws and can eat large prey. Gulls are usually inland or coastal species and rarely go to sea, except for seagulls. It takes up to four years for large species to grow full adult feathers, but small seagulls usually take two years. Large white-headed gulls are usually long-lived birds, and the oldest recorded age of herring gulls is 49 years. This gave us a brief introduction to what is a seagull. We will learn more about them and the differences between gull vs seagull.
Seagulls nest in large, densely populated, and noisy groups. Seagull birds lay two to three spotted eggs in nests made of vegetation such as straws and grass. The larvae are premature, with black spots at birth, and can move after hatching. Gulls are resourceful, curious, and intelligent species, especially the larger species, demonstrating complex communication methods and highly developed social structures. For example, many flocks of seagulls will display siege behaviour, attacking and harassing predators and other intruders. Certain species have shown tool-using behaviour, such as herring gulls, which use slices of bread as bait to catch goldfish. Many species of gulls have learned to successfully coexist with humans and thrive in human habitats. Others trust thieves to parasitize them and obtain food. Gulls have been observed to feed on live whales and land on the whales when they emerge and peck for meat.
Description and Shape
The Pacific Gull is a large white-headed gull with a very heavy bill. 4,444 gulls range in size from small gulls weighing 120 grams and 29 centimetres to large black seagull weighing 1.75 kg. They are generally the same size, with heavy bodies, long wings, and medium necks. Except for three species, the tails of all species are round, except for Juniper Gulls and Fork-tailed Gulls with forked tails and Ross's Gulls with wedge-shaped tails. Seagulls have legs of medium length, especially compared to similar species, their legs are completely webbed. The beak is usually heavier and slightly hooked, with larger species having stronger beaks than smaller species. The colour of the bill is usually yellow, the larger white-headed species have red spots, and the smaller species are red, crimson, or black.
Seagulls are all-rounders. In fact, they are the least professional seabirds and their morphology allows them to be equally good at swimming, flying and walking. They are better at walking on land than most other seabirds, and smaller seagulls tend to be more flexible when walking. The gait of seagulls involves slight movement from side to side, which may be exaggerated in breeding displays. In the air, they can float or take off quickly in a small space.
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The general feather pattern of an adult seagull animal is a white body and a darker coat. The darker mantle varies from light gray to black. Some species differ in this regard. The ivory gull is completely white, and some, like the lava gull and Herman gull, have a partially or completely gray body. The wingtips of most species are black, which improves their abrasion resistance, usually with a diagnostic pattern of white markings. The gull's head can be covered by a black or completely white hood. Head feathers vary according to the breeding season; in non-breeding black-headed gulls, the hood is missing, sometimes leaving a spot behind the eyes, while in white-headed gulls, the non-breeding head may be striped.
Seagulls are distributed throughout the world. They breed on every continent, including the edges of Antarctica, and are also found in the Arctic highlands. They are less common on tropical islands, although some species live on islands such as the Galapagos and New Caledonia. Many species breed in coastal colonies, preferring islands, and one species, the gray gull, breeds in dry deserts far from water. There is considerable diversity in this family, and the species can breed and feed in marine, freshwater, or terrestrial habitats.
Most gull species are migratory. Birds migrate to warmer habitats in winter, but the degree of migration varies from species to species. Some migrate long distances, like Franklin Seagull, who migrates from Canada to wintering grounds in southern South America. Other species travel much shorter distances and may be scattered along the coast near their breeding grounds. An important influence on the distribution of non-breeding gulls is food plates. Human fishing is particularly influential because it generally provides abundant and predictable food resources. The two gulls that depend on human fishing, Ichthyaetus audouinii and Larus fuscus, whose breeding distribution is severely affected by discards from human fishing and fishing ports.
Diet and Feeding
Carradriiform birds drink salt water and fresh water because they have exocrine glands located in the supraorbital sulcus of the skull, so the salt can be discharged through the nostrils to help the kidneys maintain the electrolyte balance. Gulls are highly adaptable breeders, feeding opportunistically on a wide range of prey. Gulls diet includes live and dead fish, marine and freshwater invertebrates, arthropods, and terrestrial invertebrates, such as insects and earthworms, rodents, eggs, carrion, offal, reptiles, amphibians, and plants elements such as seeds and fruits, human garbage, french fries, and even other birds.
No species of gull is adept at a single prey, and no species of gull uses only one method of feeding. The type of food depends on the environment. Terrestrial prey such as seeds, fruits, and earthworms are more common in the breeding season, while marine prey is more common in the non-breeding season because the birds spend more time in large areas of water. In addition to hunting a wide range of prey, gulls also display great diversity in the way they obtain prey. Prey can be obtained in the air, in the water, or on land. In the air, many turbaned species are capable of catching insects on their wings, larger species perform this feat less frequently. Seagulls on the wings will also snatch objects from the water and the ground, and pounce to catch prey in the water.
Similarly, smaller species are easier to manoeuvre and can float and submerge fish in the air. Food can also be obtained by searching the ground, usually in sand, mud, or rocks on the shore. Larger gulls tend to eat more this way. In shallow water, seagulls can also paddle with their legs. One way to obtain prey is to throw heavy clams and mussel shells onto a hard surface. Seagulls can fly some distance to find a suitable surface to drop the shells. Obviously, there is a part of this task that can be learned, because older birds are more successful than younger birds. Although overall feeding success is related to age, the diversity of prey and feeding methods is not. The time taken to learn foraging skills may explain the delayed maturation of gulls.
Over centuries, gulls known to inhabit rat-prone areas have developed a special way of eating. First, the gulls catch mice in the field. Next, the seagull flew to a suitable water area. Then the seagull regurgitated the mouse and submerged it in the water. The biologists who first observed this habit observed it in the mating of pairs of seagulls. This initially led them to believe that the females were cleaning the rats after transporting them to the breeding area. But when seeing male and female solitary seagulls doing this, they finally came to the conclusion that the dry mouse might get stuck in the seagull’s throat the first time they swallowed. This conclusion further confirms that when the male sees the seagull struggling to drive away from The mouse, the mouse was partially expelled before being trapped in the seagull's throat. After drinking 5 to six sips of water, the mice were wet enough to allow the seagulls to drain the water completely. By wetting the mouse, the seagull ensures that the mouse does not get stuck in its throat.
Gulls have a limited ability to dive underwater to hunt deeper prey. To obtain prey from deeper depths, many types of gulls feed alongside other animals, and marine hunters lead their prey to the surface while hunting. Examples of this association include four gulls that feed on the mud brought to the surface by gray whales, as well as killer whales and kelp gulls and other seabirds. Observing the influence of humans on the diet of gulls, overfishing of target prey, such as sardines, has led to changes in diet and behaviour. Analysis of yellow-legged gull granules off the northwest coast of Spain reveals a shift from sardines to a crustacean-based diet.
Seagulls are monogamous colony breeders who show loyalty that usually lasts a lifetime. Divorce from a spouse does occur, but it obviously creates a social cost that will last for several years after the breakup. Seagulls also show a high level of fidelity in the field, where they breed once and then return to the same group, and often even breed at the same location within the group. Colonies can range from a few pairs to more than 100,000 pairs and can be unique to this species of gull or shared with other species of seabirds. Some species build their nests alone, and one-tailed gulls can breed in groups of other birds.
Within a colony, pairs of gulls are territories that protect areas of different sizes around the nesting site of other species. This area can be as large as a five-meter radius around the herring gull's nest, or it can be a small area on the edge of the bird's cliff. Most gulls breed once a year, and the breeding season is predictable, lasting three to five months. A few weeks before occupying the colony, the gulls began to gather around the colony. Existing pairs reestablish their mating relationship and the missing birds begin to court. The birds then return to their territory and the new male establishes a new territory and attempts to woo the female. Seagulls use calls and airstrikes to protect their territory from attacks by their male and female opponents.
Nesting is also part of mating. The gull’s nest is usually a mat of plant material with a central cup for the nest. Nests are generally built on the ground, but there are some species that are built on cliffs, including Kitivak. They almost always build nests in those habitats and, in some cases, in trees and trees like Bonaparte. Seagulls build their nests in high places like seagulls. Swamp-nesting species must build a nesting platform to keep their nests dry, especially wetland-nesting species. Both sexes collect nesting materials and build nests, but the division of labour is not always completely equal. In coastal cities, many seagulls nest on rooftops, which can be observed by nearby human residents. Clutch size is usually three eggs, although in some smaller species it is two, and the ten-tailed gull has only one egg. In the community, the birds lay their eggs synchronously, and the synchronization is stronger in larger communities, but after a certain point, this situation will stabilize.
Seagull eggs are usually dark brown or dark olive, with black spots and graffiti marks, and are well camouflaged. Both sexes hatch eggs. The incubation period lasts one to four hours during the day, and one parent hatches overnight. Studies on several species of birds, including seagulls, have shown that females for mating bonds with other females in order to obtain allogeneic care for their dependent offspring. Incubation lasts 22 to 26 days, starting after the first egg is laid, but is not continue until the second egg is laid. This means that the first two chicks hatch together and the third chick hatches after a while. These chicks are raised by their parents for about a week or two, and usually, at least one parent accompanies them until they grow out to protect them. Both parents feed the chicks, although, in the early stages of brooding, the male is responsible for most of the feeding, while the female is responsible for most of the feeding and guarding.
The seagull taxonomy is confused because of its wide hybridization range leading to gene flow. Some are traditionally considered to be ring species, but recent evidence suggests that this hypothesis is problematic. Until recently, most gulls representative species belonged to the genus Larus, but it is now known that this arrangement is multi-family, leading to the resurrection of the genera Ichthyaetus, Chroicocephalus, Leucophaeus, Saundersilarus, and Hydrocoloeus. Large White-headed Gull is used to describe 18 herring-like species from California gull to a black-backed gull in the following taxonomic list. White-winged Gull is used to describing the four light-winged high arctic breeding groups in the first group; they are the Iceland seagull, the white seagull, the Thayer seagull, and the Kumlien seagull. Crossing between seagull species occurs frequently, although the degree varies with the species involved. The classification of the Great White-headed Gull is particularly complicated.