RED-BILLED GULL

RED-BILLED GULL (Chroicocephalus scopulinus)

The red-billed gull (or mackarel gull) is a small gull about the same size as the black-billed gull. In addition to the red bill and legs, it has a red circle around its yellow eyes. It is native to New Zealand and widespread. It nests in large colonies, at times with the black-billed gull, with which they can interbreed. As with many gulls, it is a scavenger that has adapted well to human habitats. The red-billed gull is also a ‘kleptoparasite’ (parasite by theft), i.e. it will steal the food caught by other birds.

NAME: 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’).

Red-billed gulls fighting for food scraps left by tourists at Houhora Harbour, North Island, New Zealand.
Red-billed gulls fighting for food scraps left by tourists at Houhora Harbour, North Island, New Zealand.
This is part of the colony on a rock off the Kaikoura Peninsula. The rock is white from bird guano. The colony also is home to the black-billed gull. NZ
This is part of the colony on a rock off the Kaikoura Peninsula. The rock is white from bird guano. The colony also is home to the black-billed gull. NZ
Once the red-billed gulls are done with the food scraps, the waste will get scattered by the wind. Houhora Harbour, NZ
Once the red-billed gulls are done with the food scraps, the waste will get scattered by the wind. Houhora Harbour, NZ
Red-billed gulls - Christchuch Botanic Garden, NZ
Red-billed gulls – Christchuch Botanic Garden, NZ
Red-billed gull on a rocky edge. From the amount of guano, it seems like a favorite hangout spot for the birds. Kaikoura Peninsula, NZ
Red-billed gull on a rocky edge. From the amount of guano, it seems like a favorite hangout spot for the birds. Kaikoura Peninsula, NZ
Very informative signs were posted in various shore areas at the Kaikoura Peninsula. This one is about the largest red-billed gull colony. NZ
Very informative signs were posted in various shore areas at the Kaikoura Peninsula. This one is about the largest red-billed gull colony. NZ
The distinctive (dark) red circle around the yellow eye of the red-billed gull. Christchurch Botanic Garden. NZ
The distinctive (dark) red circle around the yellow eye of the red-billed gull. Christchurch Botanic Garden. NZ

BACK TO THE TOP