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Black Backed Gull

 

Black-backed gull (Larus dominicanus)

Black-backed gull
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There are 2 subspecies of black-backed gulls with one subspecies breeding in South Africa, whilst the other breeds around the Sub-Antarctic and temperate southern hemisphere, including New Zealand. Its highly distinctive with its black back and upper wings and is the largest gull New Zealand.

These birds are opportunistic scavengers and are highly adaptable living in cities, coastal areas, rivers and lakes. Their diet is huge ranging from fish, shellfish, eggs, offal, refuse, carrion and frogs.

They can commute up to 30km/day between roosting and feeding sites and will follow ships into pelagic waters.  They prefer to nest in large colonies with nest building beginning in late July. The nest is built mainly by the male, consisting of seaweed, twigs, grass, feathers and tidal debris. 1-3 eggs are laid between mid-October to late November, with both parents incubating the eggs. Chicks are guarded by one of the adults and fledge at 50 days old.  They stay with their parents for up to 6 months.

Life expectancy is around 14 years, but the oldest known black-backed lived to over 28 yrs.