Caspian Gull

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Common Name: Caspian Gull
Scientific Name: Larus cachinnans

Size: 23-26 inches (59-67 cm)

Habitat: Eurasia; breeds around the Black and Caspian Seas, extending eastwards across Central Asia to north-west China. In Europe it has been spreading north and west and now breeds in Poland and eastern Germany. Some birds migrate south as far as the Red Sea and Persian Gulf while others disperse into Western Europe, in countries such as Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Small numbers are now seen regularly in Britain, especially in South-east England, East Anglia and the Midlands.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: unknown number of mature individuals.

Diet: Small fish and animals by hunting or scavenging.

Breeding: Male and female look alike. The legs, wings and neck are longer than those of the Herring Gull and Yellow-legged Gull. The eye is small and often dark; the legs vary from pale pink to a pale yellowish color. The back and wings are a slightly darker shade of grey than the Herring Gull but slightly paler than the Yellow-legged Gull. First-winter birds have a pale head with dark streaking on the back of the neck. The under parts are pale and the back is greyish. The greater and median wing-coverts have whitish tips forming two pale lines across the wing.

It typically nests on flat, low-lying ground by water unlike the Yellow-legged Gull which mainly nests on cliffs in areas where the two overlap. The breeding season starts from early April. Two or three eggs are laid and incubated for 27 to 31 days.

Cool Facts: This gull has a troubled taxonomic history. Currently, it is treated as a full species by some authorities and as a subspecies of the Herring Gull by the British Ornithologists' Union Records Committee (saying DNA samples don’t offer conclusive evidence). Some authorities include the Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis) within Larus cachinnans but it is now commonly considered to be a separate species.

The Mongolian Gull (Larus vegae/cachinnans mongolicus) may be classed as a subspecies of the Caspian Gull, a subspecies of the East Siberian Gull or as a species in its own right. It breeds in Mongolia and surrounding areas and migrates south-east in winter.

Found in Songbird ReMix Seabirds Volume 2

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