There are four subspecies of this bird; hartlaubii which breeds in South Africa, novaehollandiae which breeds in Australia, forsteri in the south–western Pacific from Torres Strait to New Caledonia, and scopulinus in New Zealand.
Red–billed gulls are highly gregarious birds which breed in large colonies of up to 5000 pairs on sandspits, boulderbanks, shellbanks, gravel beaches and rocky headlands, usually near marine upswellings. The birds start building nest sites in mid July but are not occupied until early August.
Other common names: —
silver gull, akiaki
37 cm., males 300 g., females 260 g., grey and white, bright red bill legs and feet, black wing tips.
Where to find: —
Widespread and locally common around the coast and inland lakes such as Lake Rotorua.
More Information: —
»»» Tarapunga, red-billed gull
(from Maori myth section)
The Dying Gull
Storm air, storm water,
O seabird’s daughter,
Wind and wind and wind.
Rain and rain and rain.
Boring and blowing and glooming,
Grinding and lashing and booming,
Crushing the ears in,
Stinging the eyes out,
And billowing over and under,
Thunder and thunder and thunder,
Till its very roll
Turns to a lullaby.
And the dimness all flowers blue
Like the sky and the sea she knew
In the bantling days
of her birdhood.
The sun through her breast
And her youth at rest
In a tarn of soft air floating
Floating - floating - floating.
— Eileen Duggan
Credit for the photograph: —
Illustration description: —
Buller, Walter Lawry, Birds of New Zealand, 1888.
Gould, John, Birds of Australia, 1840–48.
Heather, B., & Robertson, H., Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand, 2000.
Page date & version: —
Tuesday, 20 May 2014; ver2009v1