The sooty gull (Larus hemprichii) belongs to the family of gulls, Laridae.
These gull species are distributed in Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Iran and Pakistan. Vagrant populations of sooty gull are found in India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and Bahrain. These gulls are monotypic species.
Sooty gull - Overview
- Scientific name: Larus hemprichii
- Species author: (Bruch, 1853)
- Synonyms/Protonym:Larus (Adelarus) hemprichii Bruch, 1853, Larus hemprichii, Larus hemprichi
- Family: Laridae › Charadriiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
- Vernacular names: English: Sooty gull, French: Goéland de Hemprich, German: Hemprichmöwe, Spanish: Gaviota cejiblanca, Russian: Аденская чайка, Japanese: ススケカモメ, Persian: کاکایی دودیr
- Other names: Aden Gull, Hemprich's Gull
- Distribution: Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Iran, Pakistan
- Diet and feeding habits: small fish, shrimp, dead fish, fish offal, turtle hatchlings, eggs and chicks of other sea birds.
- IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
Appearance, physical description and identificationThe sooty gull (Larus hemprichii) is a medium-sized bird measuring 45 to 50 cm in length and weighing 400 to 500 grams. The wingspan is 105 to 120 cm.
The sooty gull has dark upperparts and white underparts. The head, back, rump, breast and the tail are dark gray on the upperside. The juveniles have paler head and the neck is speckled white. The legs are gray and long. The irises are blackish.
The bill of these gull species is long and in adult birds the tip is colored red followed by narrow blackish band. The rest of the bill is pale or bluish gray. In juveniles the bill does not have the red tip and the base of the bill is more bluish. The sooty gull call is a goose-like repeated "gar gar" sound.
|Birds of India - Image of Sooty gull - Larus hemprichii by Baresi franco|
|Indian birds - Picture of Sooty gull - Larus hemprichii by Donald Macauley|
|Birds of India - Photo of Sooty gull - Larus hemprichii by logan kahle|
Origin, geographical range and distributionThe sooty gull species are distributed in the coasts along the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, along the eastern coast of Iran, coast of Pakistan and southwards along the African coast up to Mozambique.
The sooty gull species are distributed in the coastal regions and nearby islands of Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Iran and Pakistan.
Vagrant sooty gull populations are observed along the coasts of India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and Bahrain.
The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of sooty gull species in Yemen are Ra's Fartak, Abdullah Gharib lagoons, Qishn beach, Islands north of Al-Hudaydah, Qalansiya lagoon, Socotra, Islands off Bir Ali, Jaza'ir al-Zubayr and Jaza'ir al-Hanish. The IBA in UAE is Qarnayn island.
The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of sooty gull species in Saudi Arabia are Farasan Islands, Al-Wajh Bank and Umm al-Qamari. The IBA in Iran are Pozam - Maytab coast, Hormoz island and Bahu Kalat (Gandu) Protected Area. The IBA of sooty gull in Tanzania is Dar es Salaam coast.
The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of sooty gull species in Oman are Ras al Hadd, Masirah island, Barr al Hikman, Daymaniyat Islands, Khor Mughsayl, Khawr Hassan, Duqm, Halaaniyaat Islands, Khawr ad Dahariz and Jazirat Hino. The IBA of sooty gull in Kenya are Tana River Delta and Sabaki River Mouth.
Ecosystem and habitatThese sooty gull species have low forest dependence. These species occur in altitudes from 0 to 100 meters.
These sooty gull species inhabit natural ecosystems like tropical and subtropical mangrove vegetations, sea cliffs, offshore islands, intertidal mud flats, rocky, pebbly, shingle and sandy shoreline, beaches, tide pools, lagoons, estuaries, coral reefs and shallow seas with macroalgae like kelp and seagrass.
Diet and feeding behaviorThe diet of these sooty gull species is mostly dead fish and offal. Small fish, shrimp, dead fish, fish offal, turtle hatchlings, eggs and chicks of other sea birds are their primary food. They forage in harbours and ports, inshore islands and intertidal zones.
Reproduction and breeding habitsThe breeding season of the sooty gull is in June in Red Sea region. The breeding season is from June to September in Pakistan. The nesting sites are located on inshore coral islands with rock, sand and sparse vegetation.
The sooty gull nest is a scrape or a depression lined with leaves, under mangrove vegetation or a seepweed bush. They nest colonially as small loose colonies in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea region. In Africa, they nest solitarily amidst colonies of other species.
Migration and movement patternsThe sooty gull species are partially migratory birds.
Post breeding, most of the sooty gull populations move southwards. Many populations in Red Sea region are sedentary, remaining in the area all year round. Some gull populations appear to be nomadic.
Post breeding, the gull juveniles may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They sometimes may make local movements for feeding and breeding within their range.
Conservation and survivalThe global population size of the sooty gull (Larus hemprichii) has not been quantified. The overall population trend of these gull species is considered to be decreasing. Throughout its range it is reported to be common to uncommon. The generation length is 11.5 years. Their distribution size is about 7,050,000 sq.km.
The sooty gull (Larus hemprichii) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable, either under the range size criterion, or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion. Oil exploration activity, oil spills and egg-collection are the main threats that may endanger the survival of these gull species.
IUCN and CITES statusThe IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the gull species and has listed it as of "Least Concern". CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for the sooty gull (Larus hemprichii).
1.Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ichthyaetus_hemprichii_Oman.jpg (cropped)
Image author: Baresi franco | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
2.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flickr_-_don_macauley_-_Laridae_standing_in_sea_water.jpg (cropped)
Image author: Donald Macauley | License: CC BY-SA 2.0 as on 3/25/17
3.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ichthyaetus_hemprichii_Muscat,_Oman_1.jpg (cropped)
Image author: logan kahle | License: CC BY 2.0 as on 3/25/17
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