Larus argentatus   Pontoppidan,  1763 (Bird)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Aves

Size: Length 56cm; Weight 58"

Color: Adult birds are white with the mantle and greater part of the wings a pale blue-grey. The wings has a narrow white border along the hind edge and a triangular, dark brown tip, marked with white spots or mirrors. the powerful bill is deep yellow, with a bright vermilion patch on the gonys on the lower mandible, and the legs and feet flesh colored. The eye, which gives the bird a fierce look, is very pale yellow. Winter plumage is differ by the addition of a varying amount of brownish mottling on the head and neck. Juveniles are initially a light umber brown, mottled with dark, blackish-brown, and gradually become paler over three years.

Habits: This gull will feed on a wide variety of live prey, but will also scavenge for dead animals and garbage. It is often seen floating in the air behind a ship, using the eddies of wind, or perched on a mast or rail.

Breeding season: The species breeds between mid-April and late-June. Nest- The nest is a depression in a mound of vegetation placed on the ground, e.g. on a cliff ledge or roof, usually in the shelter of vegetation. Egg- 3 egg clutch.

Synonym (s)

Common Name (s)
• Herring Gull (English)
• Kalipeethvalo dhomdo, Pila-pagvalo dhomdo, Pilapag dhomado (Gujrati)
• Peria kadal kagam (Tamil)
• Gourukaki (Telugu)
Economic Importance and Threats
Importance:  Commercial
(Herring gulls are significant enough in population size to permit their use as experimental subjects both within the wild and the laboratory, with potentially positive results for humans gleaned from the research. In addition, the wide geographic range of herring gulls makes the species useful for making observations concerning pollutants for a great number of areas. Herring gulls can contribute to beach sanitation by eating dead fish and trash left behind by humans. The gulls, in the pursuit of food, also sometimes lead fishermen to schools of herring.)
Threats:  Anthropogenic
(The species is threatened by coastal oil pollution)
Importance:  Ecosystem balance
(Though Larus argentatus is a predator of other birds, its attacks on predators sometimes serve to protect birds such as eiders (Somateria mollissima) and puffins (Fratercula artica) which live nearby. Herring gull consumption of dead animals on land and at sea is a form of biodegradation)
Importance:  Dangers
(Herring gulls have an adverse effect on humans in areas where their population size, combined with their foraging habits (e.g., stealing human food), makes them a pest.

Gulls, including Larus argentatus, are involved in approximately 20.3% of collisions between aircraft and birds.)
Threats:  Natural threats
(Susceptible to avian influenza so may be threatened by future outbreaks of the virus)

Habitat:  Rocky, Sandy, Muddy, Coastal
Prey:   fish, earthworms, crabs and other marine invertebrates (e.g. molluscs, starfish or marine worms), adult birds, bird eggs and young, rodents, insects (e.g. ants), berries and tubers (e.g. turnips). It also scavenges at refuse dumps, fishing wharves and sewage outfall zones.
Predator:  bald eagles (Haliaetus leucocephalus) peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) gyrfalcons (Falco rusticolis) great horned owls (Bubo virginianus) red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) domestic dogs (Canis lupis familiaris) harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) gray seals (Halichoerus grypus) northern harriers (Circus cyaeneus) short-eared owls (Asio flammeus) common ravens (Corvus corax) black-crowned night-herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) great blue herons (Ardea herodias) raccoons (Procyon lotor) domestic cats (Felis catus) mink (Neovison vison)
IUCN Status:  Least Concern


• Tamil Nadu, Chennai INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Gulf of Mannar INDIA
• Gujarat, Gulf of Kachchh INDIA
• Andhra Pradesh, Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary INDIA

Literature Source(s)
  • Society for the Management of European Biodiversity Data (2009) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Available at -
  • Marine Biological Station, Chennai, Tamil Nadu (2003) Checklist of marine fauna of Tamil Nadu Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Available at -
  • Water and shore birds Available at -
  • Dr. Ramesh, R; Dr. Nammalwar, P and Dr. Gowri, VS (2008) Database on coastal information of Tamil Nadu Report Submitted to Environmental Information System (ENVIS) Centre, Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Institute for Ocean Management, Anna University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Available at -
  • (1997) Coastal marine environment of Gujarat 178pp Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Gibbon-Hill CA, Campbell B, Campbell R and Prytherch R (1976) A guide to the birds of the coast Constable and Company Ltd 13-283pp Available at - Goa University
  • Vernacular names of the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent Buceros, Envis newsletter: Avian Ecology & Inland Wetlands 62pp Available at -
  • Rao VV, Anjaneyulu M, Nagulu V, Srinivasulu C and Satyanarayana D (2004) Water fowl Status at Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh EPTRI - ENVIS Newsletter 10(4) 7-12pp Available at -,%20No.4,%202004.pdf
  • (2003) IUCN Red list of threatened species Available at -
  • Myers, P; Espinosa, R; Parr, CS; Jones, T; Hammond, GS and Dewey, TA (2006) Animal diversity web Available at -

Page last updated on:2012-07-13

Back to Search