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Laridae - Gulls, Terns & Skimmers

Tern
South American Tern Sterna hirundinacea ©James Lowen Website

I really do not know why Gulls excite such passion. Frankly, I, like very many birders, find the taxa difficult to ID quickly and, sorry chaps, rather boring. Its a bit like the old Ford dictum - you can have any colour you like as long as its black! With gullys thats black, white and shades of grey.

Nevertheless, there are a great many very dedicated gull watchers ready to split by leg shade or gape colour. Good luck to you I say - I admit it has one great advantage - every town with a rubbish tip has plenty of gulls and these sucessful birds are very much more common inland than they used to be. It is, of course, a good way of recognising a birder and separating him or her from the populous at large. Point at the black and white bird and ask what it is. Most people will tell you its a sea-gull. Birders will tell you its a gull!

The IOC recently lumped into this family two others, which had been treated as families in their own right Skimmers and Terns. The latter contains some of the most beautiful species and in many ways the most birdy of birds - the Arctic Tern, which in the course of two years completely circumnavigates the globe going from pole to pole and back again…

According to the IOC the family Laridae, terns, skimmers and gulls consists of 101 species, which are:

Brown Noddy Anous stolidus
Lesser Noddy Anous tenuirostris
Black Noddy Anous minutus

Blue Noddy Procelsterna cerulea
Grey Noddy Procelsterna albivitta

White Tern Gygis alba

Black Skimmer Rynchops niger
African Skimmer Rynchops flavirostris
Indian Skimmer Rynchops albicollis

Swallow-tailed Gull Creagrus furcatus

Black-legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla
Red-legged Kittiwake Rissa brevirostris

Ivory Gull Pagophila eburnea

Sabine's Gull Xema sabini

Slender-billed Gull Chroicocephalus genei
Bonaparte's Gull Chroicocephalus philadelphia
Silver Gull Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae
Black-billed Gull Chroicocephalus bulleri
Andean Gull Chroicocephalus serranus
Brown-headed Gull Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus
Brown-hooded Gull Chroicocephalus maculipennis
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus
Grey-headed Gull Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus
Hartlaub's Gull Chroicocephalus hartlaubii
Saunders's Gull Chroicocephalus saundersi

Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus

Ross's Gull Rhodostethia rosea

Dolphin Gull Leucophaeus scoresbii
Lava Gull Leucophaeus fuliginosus
Laughing Gull Leucophaeus atricilla
Franklin's Gull Leucophaeus pipixcan
Grey Gull Leucophaeus modestus

Relict Gull Ichthyaetus relictus
Audouin's Gull Ichthyaetus audouinii
Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus
Pallas's Gull Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus
White-eyed Gull Ichthyaetus leucophthalmus
Sooty Gull Ichthyaetus hemprichii

Pacific Gull Larus pacificus
Belcher's Gull Larus belcheri
Olrog's Gull Larus atlanticus
Black-tailed Gull Larus crassirostris
Heermann's Gull Larus heermanni
Mew Gull Larus canus
Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis
California Gull Larus californicus
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus
Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus
Glaucous-winged Gull Larus glaucescens
Western Gull Larus occidentalis
Yellow-footed Gull Larus livens
Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus
Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides
Thayer's Gull Larus thayeri
European Herring Gull Larus argentatus
American Herring Gull Larus smithsonianus
Vega Gull Larus vegae
Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis
Armenian Gull Larus armenicus
Slaty-backed Gull Larus schistisagus
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus

Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica

Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia

Royal Tern Thalasseus maximus
Greater Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii
Elegant Tern Thalasseus elegans
Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis
Chinese Crested Tern Thalasseus bernsteini
Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis
Cabot's Tern Thalasseus acuflavidus

Little Tern Sternula albifrons
Saunders's Tern Sternula saundersi
Least Tern Sternula antillarum
Yellow-billed Tern Sternula superciliaris
Peruvian Tern Sternula lorata
Fairy Tern Sternula nereis
Damara Tern Sternula balaenarum

Aleutian Tern Onychoprion aleuticus
Spectacled Tern Onychoprion lunatus
Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus
Sooty Tern Onychoprion fuscatus

River Tern Sterna aurantia
Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii
White-fronted Tern Sterna striata
Black-naped Tern Sterna sumatrana
South American Tern Sterna hirundinacea
Common Tern Sterna hirundo
White-cheeked Tern Sterna repressa
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea
Antarctic Tern Sterna vittata
Kerguelen Tern Sterna virgata
Forster's Tern Sterna forsteri
Snowy-crowned Tern Sterna trudeaui
Black-bellied Tern Sterna acuticauda

Black-fronted Tern Chlidonias albostriatus
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida
White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus
Black Tern Chlidonias niger

Large-billed Tern Phaetusa simplex

Inca Tern Larosterna inca

Family Links

Gulls, Terns, Noddies & Skimmers Laridae

Family Account

Gulls are ubiquitous denizens of temperate shorelines around the world. Many species are large and conspicuous and everyone in the northern hemisphere can recognize a "gull," even if they think they are boring…

Gulls, Terns, Noddies & Skimmers Laridae

Cornell Family Account

Annotated species list (Americas only)

Gulls, Terns, Noddies & Skimmers Laridae

HBW Family Account

Annotated species list

Gulls, Terns, Noddies & Skimmers Laridae

Family Account

Gulls, often referred to as seagulls,[1][2] are seabirds of the family Laridae in the suborder Lari.

Species Links

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus

Species Account

The lesser black-backed gull (Larus fuscus) is a large gull that breeds on the Atlantic coasts of Europe. The scientific name is from Latin. Larus appears to have referred to a gull or other large seabird, and fuscus meant black or brown.

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus

Cornell Species Account

Common across Europe, the Lesser Black-backed Gull is an uncommon, but regular visitor to eastern North America

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus

IUCN Species Status

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus

BirdLife Species Account

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Larus fuscus Linnaeus, 1758, Sweden. Five subspecies currently recognized.

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map

South American Tern Sterna hirundinacea

Species Account

The South American tern (Sterna hirundinacea) is a species of tern found in coastal regions of southern South America, including the Falkland Islands, ranging north to Peru (Pacific coast) and Brazil (Atlantic coast).

South American Tern Sterna hirundinacea

BirdLife Species Account

South American Tern Sterna hirundinacea

HBW Species Account

South American Tern Sterna hirundinacea

Cornell Species Account

Along with the Snowy-crowned Tern (Sterna trudeaui), the South American Tern is the most widespread tern in the now restricted “Sterna” group of mid-sized terns.

South American Tern Sterna hirundinacea

IUCN Species Status

South American Tern Sterna hirundinacea

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans

Species Account

Caspian gull is a name applied to the gull taxon Larus cachinnans, a member of the herring gull/lesser black-backed gull complex.

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans

BirdLife Species Account

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans

HBW Species Account

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 101

Useful Reading

Seabirds

by Peter Harrison - Helm 1985

ISBN: 071363510X

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Gulls - A Guide to Identification

P J Grant - T & AD Poyser 1986

ISBN: 0856610445

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Flight Identification of European Seabirds

by Anders Blomdahl, Bertil Breife & Niklas Holmstrom from Christopher Helm April 2003 Price ?35. See Fatbirder Review

ISBN: 0713660201

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Seabirds - a natural history

by Anthony J Gaston A&C Black 2004
See Fatbirder Review

ISBN: 0713665572

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Terns - of Europe & North America

by klaus Malling Olsen and Hans Larsson - Helm 1995

ISBN: 0713640561

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Organisations

The Seabird Group

Website

The Seabird Group, a registered charity, was founded in 1966 to promote and help coordinate the study and conservation of seabirds…

Southern Oceans Seabird Study Association

Website

SOSSA was founded by members of the New South Wales Albatross Study Group (NSWASG) in 1994. It was set up to be an umbrella organisation for many study groups concerned with studies of Southern Ocean bio-diversity. SOSSA is a wildlife research and conservation group which consists of dedicated people both professional and amateur. These people share a common interest and concern for the environment and the wildlife of the Southern Oceans…

Forums & Mailing Lists

Laridae

Mailing List

Laridae est une liste de discussion ornitho traitant des Labbes, Mouettes, Goélands, Sternes et Guifettes

Blogs

Larus

Blog

This blog has been created as a sincere tribute to every gull in the world, for those ardent enthusiastic gull-watchers who enjoy the strength, beauty and freedom of this amazing group of birds. Gabriel Martín, Madrid, Spain…

Gulls on Film

Blog

This blog is dedicated to pulling together videos of Gulls from Youtube and other sources to be used as an aid to identification and for general information…

Other Links

Rudy's Birding Page

Website

Welcome to my homepage. This site will be an information-page about everything that is linked to my favourite hobby: birdwatching! Surprisingly, even for me, that everything turned out to be mostly Gulls!!

Martin Reid's Gulls

Website

Yet more of those black, white and grey jobs… personally leaves me cold…

Gull Identification Website

Website

To the Sea, to the Sea! The white gulls are crying, The wind is blowing, and the white foam is flying.-Legolas Song of the Sea (The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien) - featuring images, links to images, and individual species/subspecies descriptions(limited to the larger white-headed species)…

Great Gull Island

Website

Great Gull Island is the site of an ongoing research project on Common Terns and Roseate Terns.

Atlantic Yellow-legged Gulls

Website

Photographs by Nick Rossiter with information about other Atlantic gulls too. One for the devotee here.

Ocean Wanderers

Website

Angus Wilson`s Bird Identification Resource

Bahrain Bird Report

Website

Over 25,000 Gulls can be found wintering around the open Land Fill site The Dump close to Askar. Mid winter the place resembles a scene from Alfred Hitchcocks film The Birds. The identity and relationships of these scavenging hordes remains in dispute. The heat is on as more and more ornithologists visit the dump See how you fair follow the link at the bottom of the page to view the seventy or so photographs…

Norwegian Gull Page

Website

Lots of pictures of gulls in Norway. Different age, races, hybrids and so on…

Italian Gulls – Gabbiani d'Italia

Website

Welcome to the web site featuring the Italian gull species. Here you'll learn all about the gulls flying over Italy, where they nest, from where they arrive and where they go…

Seabird Osteology

Website

The Seabirds Skull Gallery, existing since 2002, has only been changed a bit and was given a new name that covers the subject more properly. After two years working on this site it is not only skulls anymore that are shown. Regular visitors have already noticed that since December 2004 the scope has widened. It now includes also other parts of the seabird skeleton. In the Seabird Osteology section general aspects of seabird osteology are treated and in the species section you willl find a listing of families and groups with links to pages on skeletons of particular species or groups. There is always work in progress, which means that there will be additions and improvements from time to time…

Gabbiani Gulls

Website

Gulls of Italy…