Audouin’s Gull

Description and biology

Gulls are aquatic birds found near all oceans and many inland waters around the world. The Audouin’s gull is a moderately large gull. Its plumage (covering of feathers) is pale gray and white. It has black wing tips and a black and red bill. The bird feeds primarily on fish it plucks from the sea while in flight.

The breeding season for Audouin’s gulls lasts from April until June. The female lays 2 to 3 eggs in a depression she has scraped out in the ground. Both parents incubate (sit on or brood) the eggs for about 28 days until they hatch.

The young gulls are fed and raised by both parents. They fledge (develop flying feathers) after about 35 to 40 days and become completely independent after 3 or 4 months.

Habitat and current distribution

Audouin’s gulls breed primarily in the western Mediterranean, on rocky islets (small islands) far from human civilization.

Biologists (people who study living organisms) have estimated the total population of the species as it has changed over the years, from about 800 to 900 male–female pairs in 1965 to 9,000 to 9,500 pairs in 1989, to 15,000 pairs in 1995 to 19,200 pairs in 2000 The vast majority of these birds currently inhabit Spain.

These gulls usually feed over water not far from land. They nest on small, low–lying islands covered with grass or low bushes.

History and conservation measures

The significant increase in the population of Audouin’s gulls is largely due to an increase in the fish it eats in the western Mediterranean. Despite its remarkable rise in numbers, the species remains vulnerable.

The primary threat facing Audouin’s gulls is having their breeding areas disturbed by people, especially fishermen, tourists, and shepherds. Since these areas are unprotected, many people regularly collect the birds’ eggs. The gulls are also threatened by pollution, which is destroying their feeding areas.