Southern Black-backed Gull

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Scientific Name: 
Larus dominicanus

60 cm; male 1050 g,female 850 g. The only large gull in NZ. Languid shallow wingbeats interspersed with long glides separate it from distant skuas and mollymawks.Juvenile dull brown, pale feather edges give a mottled appearance, especially on head, neck and underparts; bill and eye dark brown; legs pinkish brown. In flight, looks dark brown with a paler rump. 2nd year has head, neck and underparts white, mottled and flecked brown; back and upperwings scruffy brown and black; bill dull yellowish or greenish, darker at tip; legs pinkish brown to greyish green. In flight, rump white, mottled brown, tail usually barred brown and white, wings darker towards tips. 3rd year has head and underparts white; neck lightly flecked brown; back and upperwings brown and black, the extent of black depending on the stage of moult; rump and tail white, with black band across tip. Bill dull yellow, darker at tip; legs yellowish green. Adult has head, neck, underparts, rump and tail white, back and upperwings black with narrow white trailing edge; bill yellow with red spot at tip of lower bill; eye pale yellow; legs greenish yellow. Habitat: Breeds circumpolar subantarctic; in NZ region, on coast of mainland, offshore and outlying islands, except only straggles to Kermadecs and The Snares; also breeds far inland on riverbeds, near lakes and alpine tarns. Ranges widely, feeds at rubbish tips, farmland, ploughed fields, beaches, harbours and behind boats, but rarely ventures far out to sea. Breeding: Oct-Feb.

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