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Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 21:24 EDT

Kelp Gull

The Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus) is a species of bird that is found on coasts and islands throughout much of the southern hemisphere. There are two subspecies: L. d. vetula occurs around southern Africa, and L. d. dominicanus is found around South America, parts of Australia (where it overlaps with Pacific Gull), and New Zealand (where it is known as the Southern Black-backed Gull).

The adult is 22 inches long with a 50 inch wingspan. It has black upperparts and wings. The head, underparts, tail and wingtip patches are white. The bill is yellow and has a red spot. The legs are greenish. Young birds have scaly black-brown upperparts, and a neat wing pattern. The African subspecies L. d. vetula has a more angular head and a smaller shorter bill. The adult has a dark eye, whereas the nominate Kelp Gull has a pale eye. The call is a raucous ki-och.

The nest of the Kelp Gull is a shallow depression on the ground lined with vegetation and feathers. The female lays 2 to 3 eggs and the male helps with the feeding when the eggs hatch. The young take four years to reach maturity. Kelp Gulls are scavengers, but will also hunt for small prey.

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Kelp Gull