Caspian gull (Larus cachinnans)

loading
Adult Caspian gull in flight, side view
loading
Loading more images and videos...

Caspian gull fact file

Caspian gull description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderCharadriiformes
FamilyLaridae
GenusLarus (1)

Previously listed as a subspecies of the herring gull (Larus argentatus), the Caspian gull (Larus cachinnans) is now considered to be a species in its own right (3). This slender gull typically has bright yellow legs, though around five to ten percent of individuals in northwest Spain have legs that are pink or partly pink (2) (4). It has a large white head and a deep yellow bill with a distinctive bright red spot (2). The white plumage of the body merges into a grey back and wings, with black and white wingtips (2).

While there is no difference in plumage between the male and female, males tend to be slightly larger (5). Young birds in their first winter have a dark bill and dark eyes, pink-grey legs, and a mottled grey-brown plumage with a white back and wings (2)

Adult Caspian gulls can be distinguished from herring gulls by their darker wings and pale iris, which is surrounded by a dark and prominent red ring (2).

Also known as
yellow-legged gull, yellow-legged herring gull.
Size
Length: 58 - 68 cm (2)
Wingspan: 140 - 155 cm (2)
Weight
800 - 1500 g (2)
Top

Caspian gull biology

Living along the coast in areas of high human activity, the Caspian gull has become an opportunistic feeder, following fishing boats and taking fish offal, as well as foraging on rubbish tips (6). In areas where human activity is less prevalent, adults feed on a range of organisms from invertebrates to other bird’s eggs and chicks. This species diet can vary between colonies, with the Caspian Sea colony also feeding on small rodents and mole-crickets (2)

The Caspian gull’s breeding strategy is similar to that of the herring gull. Breeding occurs from mid March to April, and colonies comprise approximately 8,000 pairs on high ground, often far from water (2). Breeding colonies usually contain a mixture of species with clusters of the same species within (2). It typically nests under bushes, building its nest from feathers, vegetation and nearby debris. Usually 2 to 3 eggs are laid, and the female incubates the clutch for 26 to 29 days. The chicks are fledged at six to seven weeks (2).

This species is migratory and, outside of the breeding season, it moves to its wintering grounds which include coast of southwest Asia, the northwest coast of Africa, and from the Arabian Peninsula up to northwest India (2).

Top

Caspian gull range

The Caspian gull’s range includes Europe, the Middle East, northwest Africa and central Asia. A resident of the Black Sea and Caspian Sea, the Caspian gull also breeds seasonally in eastern Kazakhstan and on the central Asian steppes (6).

Top

Caspian gull habitat

A versatile bird, the Caspian gull occupies both coastal and inland habitats (2). Colonies can be found on rocky cliffs and outcrops, as well as sandy and rocky islands, beaches and on grassy or shrubby river islands (6). The Caspian gull is also often found in areas of human activity such as rubbish dumps, harbours and ports (6).

Top

Caspian gull status

The Caspian gull (Larus cachinnans) is Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern

Top

Caspian gull threats

While the Caspian gull is a relatively common species, it is known to be vulnerable to oil pollution (2), and is also hunted for sport in the Ukraine (7).

Top

Caspian gull conservation

There are currently no known conservation actions targeting the Caspian gull.

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi is a principal sponsor of ARKive. EAD is working to protect and conserve the environment as well as promoting sustainable development in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Top

Find out more

For more information on this and other bird species please see:

Top

Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

This species information was authored as part of the ARKive and Universities Scheme.
Top

Glossary

Incubate
Keep eggs warm so that development is possible.
Invertebrates
Animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs, spiders, cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones) and echinoderms.
Subspecies
A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
Top

References

  1. IUCN Red List (August, 2011)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliot, A. & Sargatal, J. (1996) Handbook of the birds of the World. Vol. 3. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. Sangster, G., Collinson, J.M., Knox, A.G., Parkin, D.T. and Svensson, L. (2007) Taxonomic recommendations for British birds: Fourth report. Ibis, 149(4): 853-857.
  4. Olsen, K.M., and Larsson, H. (2004) Gulls of North America, Europe, and Asia. Princeton University Press, Princeton.
  5. Bosch, M. (1996) Sexual size dimorphism and determination of sex in yellow-legged gulls. Journal of Field Orthinology, 67(4): 534-541.
  6. Birdlife International (August, 2011)
    http://www.birdlife.org/
  7. Rudenko, A.G. (2006) Migration of Pontic Gulls Larus cachinnans form ‘ponticus’ ringed in the south of Ukraine: a review of recoveries from 1929 to 2003. In: Boere, G.C., Galbraith, C.A. and Stroud, D.A. (Eds.) Waterbirds around the world. The Stationery Office, Edinburgh. Availaible at:
    http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/PDF/pub07_waterbirds_part4.4.14.pdf
X
Close

Image credit

Adult Caspian gull in flight, side view  
Adult Caspian gull in flight, side view

© Roger Tidman / www.flpa-images.co.uk

FLPA - images of nature
Pages Green House
Wetheringsett
Stowmarket
Suffolk IP14 5QA
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 1728 861 113
Fax: +44 (0) 1728 860 222
pictures@flpa-images.co.uk
http://www.flpa-images.co.uk

X
Close

Link to this photo

ARKive species - Caspian gull (Larus cachinnans) Embed this ARKive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to ARKive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about

X
Close

MyARKive

MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

This species is featured in:

This species is featured in Jewels of the UAE, which showcases biodiversity found in the United Arab Emirates in association with the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi.

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!

Blog