BLACK-TAILED GULL (Larus crassirostris)
DESCRIPTION: The Black-tailed Gull has a white body with grey wings. In flight the wings show a narrow white band at the base and black tips. The tail is white with a large black band, edged with a thin white one. The bird has yellow eyes with a red eye-ring. The bill is yellow with a black and red tip. The legs are yellow. Sexes are similar, but juveniles It is about 45 cm (17 inches) long.
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Larus-crassirostris – This gull has a cat-like call, which gives it its Japanese and Korean names.
NAME: The English name of this gull refers to its tail color, whereas the Japanese (Umineko = sea cat) and Korean names refer to the bird’s cat-like call. The English name ‘Gull’ would have its origins in Old Celtic ‘Gullan’ and other languages, including Latin ‘gula’ for throat. As per Choate this would be related to the gull’s ‘indiscriminate’ scavenging habits, its ‘willingness to swallow almost anything’ (think ‘gullible’). The Latin genus name ‘Larus’ refers to a large seabird, and the Latin species name ‘crassirostris’ means ‘thick bill’.
HABITAT: Coastlines such as bays or estuaries.
DIET: Fish, insects, crustaceans, some garbage. Will catch insects on the fly.
NESTING: These gulls nest in colonies on cliffs. The nest is a scrape on the ground and hidden in vegetation. About two green eggs are laid, which are incubated by both parents. There are very large colonies in Japan. One of them is on Kabushima Island, where some 40,000 birds nest around the shrine there.
DISTRIBUTION: The breeding range of the black-tailed gull covers the coastlines of Japan and surrounding countries. It is not migratory, but some individuals may wander very far, including in North America along BOTH coasts.
CONSERVATION: This gull species is not considered at risk, given its large population and widespread range.
NOTES: The black-tailed gull call is part of the 100 soundscapes of Japan, a government initiative to combat noise pollution with sounds from nature or cultural symbols.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Heermann’s Gull, Belcher’s Gull
This video below shows Eurasian Coots, Black-tailed Gulls and Tufted Ducks swimming toward the edge of the Shinobazu Pond in the large Ueno Park, located in the middle of Tokyo, Japan.
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