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Gulls


ORDER : CHARADRIIFORMES

SUBORDER : Lari

Under the recent reorganisation of the large and diverse order CHARADRIIFORMES, the suborder Lari (gulls and allies) includes all the various species of gull, tern, skimmer, auk and skua, as well as certain shorebird species, notably those from families Dromadidae and Glareolidae (see Shorebirds).


Family : Laridae, with 56 (possibly up to 61 - see note below) currently recognised extant species of gull under 11 genera.

Subfamily : Larinae

Previously, most gulls were placed in the large genus Larus. However, following recent research and DNA systematic analysis, the family has been re-categorised resulting in the renaming of 22 species, which are now under the new genera Ichthyaetus, Leuophaeus and Chroicocephalus.

The smallest species is the Little Gull, and the largest the Great Black-backed Gull and then the Glaucous Gull.

About half of the world’s species have been recorded at one time or another in the UK.

The following is a complete systematic listing at genus level with information taken from various sources.

I've listed 56 species with notes regarding possible additions for the Mew Gull [Larus brachyrhynchus] and possible omissions for both the Kumlien’s and Thayer’s Gulls if treated as a subspecies of the Iceland Gull. In addition there are a further four subspecies, being the Kamchatka Gull [Larus (canus) kamtschatschensis], Steppe Gull [Larus (cachinnans) barabensis], Azores Gull [Larus (michahellis) atlantis] and Baltic Gull [Larus (fuscus) fuscus] where at least one authority believes that there is enough geographic variation to treat those birds as full species - hence a possible 61 species if all are counted.

This list is for personal reference, which is why certain species (just 19no) are highlighted – these being the species that I have both seen and photographed. Where possible, subspecies [ssp.] are defined for those particular birds.

  • Pacific Gull - Larus pacificus, [2 subspecies]
  • Belcher’s Gull - Larus belcheri, also known as the Band-tailed Gull
  • Olrog’s Gull - Larus atlanticus, previously a subspecies of Larus belcheri
  • Black-tailed Gull - Larus crassirostris
  • Heermann’s Gull - Larus heermanni
  • Common Gull - Larus canus, often listed as the Mew Gull [4 subspecies]
    [Europe and western Asia : nominate race, ssp.canus]
    It should be noted however that, dependent on the source information, the Mew Gull (or Short-billed Gull as an alternative name) could be treated as a completely separate species -Larus brachyrhynchus
  • Ring-billed Gull - Larus delawarensis
  • California Gull - Larus californicus, [2 subspecies]
  • Great Black-backed Gull - Larus marinus
  • Kelp Gull - Larus dominicanus, also known as the Dominican Gull, Cape Gull or Southern Black-backed Gull subject to geographic location [3 or possibly 5 subspecies] [Africa (Cape Gull) : ssp.vetula]
  • Glaucous-winged Gull - Larus glaucescens
  • Western Gull - Larus occidentalis
  • Yellow-footed Gull - Larus livens
  • Glaucous Gull - Larus hyperboreus, [4 subspecies]
    [Northern Europe : nominate race, ssp.hyberoreus, Canada, Greenland and Iceland : ssp.leuceretes]
  • Iceland Gull - Larus glaucoides, [2 or 3 subspecies if the Kumlien’s and Thayer's Gull are included]
  • Kumlien’s Gull - Larus kumlieni, sometimes considered a subspecies of Larus glaucoides
  • Thayer’s Gull - Larus thayeri, although the IOC are proposing to treat it as a subspecies of Larus glaucoides
  • European Herring Gull - Larus argentatus, [2 primary subspecies]
    [western Europe, including UK and Iceland, but excluding Scandinavia : ssp.argenteus]
    [Scandinavia and northwest Russia : nominate race, ssp.argentatus]
  • American Herring Gull - Larus smithsonianus also known as the Smithsonian Gull in North America where it is usually considered a subspecies of Larus argentatus
  • Vega Gull - Larus vegae, also called the East Siberian Herring Gull and sometimes treated as a subspecies of Larus smithsonianus and/or including the separately named Mongolian Gull - Larus vegae mongolicus
  • Caspian Gull - Larus cachinnans previously linked with Larus argentatus, but now separated
  • Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis, previously linked with Larus argentatus when it was known as the Yellow-legged Herring Gull, but now separated [2 subspecies]
    [western and southern Europe including the Mediterranean, and northwest Africa : nominate race, ssp.michahellis]
  • Armenian Gull - Larus armenicus, previously linked with Larus argentatus, but now separated
  • Slaty-backed Gull - Larus schistisagus
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull - Larus fuscus with some argument for Larus intermedius or graellsii [5 subspecies]
    [Greenland and western Europe, including UK and Iceland : ssp.graellsii]
  • Heuglin’s Gull - Larus heuglini previously linked with Larus argentatus, but now separated although sometimes considered a subspecies of Larus fuscus, also known as the Siberian Gull
  • White-eyed Gull - Ichthyaetus leucophthalmus
  • Sooty Gull - Ichthyaetus hemprichii
  • Pallas's Gull - Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus, also known as the Great Black-headed Gull
  • Audouin’s Gull - Ichthyaetus audouinii
  • Mediterranean Gull - Ichthyaetus melanocephalus
  • Relict Gull - Ichthyaetus relictus, also known as the Central Asia Gull and previously considered an eastern race of Ichthyaetus melanocephalus
  • Dolphin Gull - Leuophaeus scorebii
  • Laughing Gull - Leuophaeus atricilla, [2 subspecies]
  • Franklin’s Gull - Leuophaeus pipixcan
  • Lava Gull - Leuophaeus fuliginosus, endemic to the Galapagos Islands and the rarest gull in the world.
  • Grey Gull - Leuophaeus modestus
  • Silver Gull - Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae, [3 subspecies]
  • Red-billed Gull - Chroicocephalus scopulinus, [2 subspecies] - also known as the Mackerel Gull
  • Hartlaub’s Gull - Chroicocephalus hartlaubii, also known as the King Gull
  • Brown-hooded Gull - Chroicocephalus maculipennis
  • Grey-headed Gull - Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus, [2 subspecies] [Africa : ssp.poiocephalus]
  • Andean Gull - Chroicocephalus serranus
  • Black-billed Gull - Chroicocephalus bulleri, also known as the Buller’s Gull
  • Brown-headed Gull - Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus
  • Black-headed Gull - Chroicocephalus ridibundus
  • Slender-billed Gull - Chroicocephalus genei
  • Bonaparte’s Gull - Chroicocephalus philadelphia
  • Little Gull - Hydrocoloeus minitus
  • Swallow-tailed Gull - Creagrus furcatus
  • Ross’s Gull - currently Rhodostethia rosea, but may move to Hydrocoloeus
  • Ivory Gull - Pagophila eburnea
  • Sabine’s Gull - Xema sabini, also known as the Fork-tailed Gull
  • Saunders’ Gull - Saundersilarus saundersi sometimes listed as Chroicocephalus saundersi
  • Black-legged Kittiwake - Rissa tridactyla, [2 subspecies] [North Atlantic region - nominate race Rissa tridactyla tridactyla]
  • Red-legged Kittiwake - Rissa brevirostris

Related information : 'understanding bird orders and families' and 'understanding taxonomy listings'


Issue : 4 (Feb.18) - (originated Dec.15)