Birds in Backyards

Silver Gull Silver Gull
Photo: R Major © Australian Museum

Silver Gull on rail. Silver Gull on rail.
Photo: K Vang and W Dabrowka / Bird Explorers © K Vang and W Dabrowka / Bird Explorers

Silver Gulls on the grass. Silver Gulls on the grass.
Photo: R. Major © Australian Museum

Distribution map of Larus novaehollandiae Distribution map of Larus novaehollandiae
Map © Birds Australia Birdata

Facts and figures

Research Species: No
Minimum size: 40 cm
Maximum size: 45 cm
Average size: 42 cm
Breeding season: At any time, usually August to November
Clutch size: 3

Calls

The most common call is a harsh 'kwee-aarr'.

Conservation status

Federal - Secure
NSW - Secure
NT - Secure
Qld - Secure
SA - Secure
Tas - Secure
Vic - Secure
WA - Secure

Status of Australian Birds

Silver Gull

Scientific name: Larus novaehollandiae
Family: Laridae
Order: Charadriiformes

Featured Bird Groups
Birds behaving badly
Sea birds

What does it look like?

Description

The Silver Gull has a white head, tail and underparts, with a light grey back and black-tipped wings. In adult birds the bill, legs and eye-ring are bright orange-red.

Similar species

The Silver Gull's colouration and its relatively small size easily distinguish it from the other two resident gulls in Australia. These are the Pacific Gull, L. pacificus (63 cm), and the Kelp Gull, L. dominicanus (58 cm). Some smaller vagrant species are found in Australia from time to time, but have distinctly different plumages to the Silver Gull.

Where does it live?

Distribution

The Silver Gull is common throughout Australia and is also found in New Zealand and New Caledonia.

Habitat

The Silver Gull is found at virtually any watered habitat and is rarely seen far from land. Birds flock in high numbers around fishing boats as these leave or return to the coast, but seldom venture far out to sea.

What does it do?

Feeding

As with many other gull species, the Silver Gull has become a successful scavenger, readily pestering humans for handouts of scraps, pilfering from unattended food containers or searching for human refuse at tips. Other food includes worms, fish, insects and crustaceans.

Breeding

Silver Gulls nest in large colonies on offshore islands. Often two broods will be raised in a year, and both adults share nest-building, incubation and feeding duties. Eggs are laid in a shallow nest scrape, lined with vegetation.

Living with us

Living with humans

With greater access to a wide range of dietary items, the Silver Gull has been able to increase its population in areas of human activity. Available nesting grounds appear to be the only limiting factor to population increases.

References

Pringle, J.D. 1987. The Shorebirds of Australia. Angus and Robertson and the National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Sydney.

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