Galapagos Gulls

Lava Gull and Swallow-tailed Gull on Galapagos, November 2012


Lava Gull is the rarest gull in the world. It is endemic to Galapagos, where its population is probably fewer than 300 pairs. San Cristobal Island on Galapagos on 11 November 2012. Low population numbers are the reason it is listed as Vulnerable by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).


Possible first or second year Lava Gull at the fish market in Puerto Ayoro, Santa Cruz Island. This individual is paler than usual and has pale edges to the primaries, Its plumage may be bleached by the sun and salt water or is leucistic - lacking pigment. It was scavenging at the fish market in Puerto Ayoro on 13 November 2012.


Swallow-tailed Gull is a near-endemic of the Galapagos Islands, where most of the population breeds, but about 50 pairs also breed on an island off Colombia, South America. Swallow-tailed Gulls feed exclusively at night, the only gull in the world to do so. Their diet consists mainly of squid and fish, which come to the surface at night to feed on plankton. During the day we saw many resting. At night though, they flew alongside our boat as we sailed from island to island. This adult in breeding plumage was on South Plaza Island, Galapagos on 10 November 2012.


Adult Swallow-tailed Gull in breeding plumage in flight has a dramatic upperwing pattern similar to Sabine's Gull. All adults we saw were in breeding plumage.


A pair of adult Swallow-tailed Gulls copulating on South Plaza Island. They breed on a 9 month cycle, rather than a year cycle like most other gulls. If nesting fails they will breed more often. South Plaza 10 November 2012


This juvenile Swallow-tailed Gull was being cared for by adults. Adults continue to feed young until the chick is three months old. Genovesa Island on 15 November 2012


Juvenile Swallow-tailed Gull with unmistakable pattern on the upper parts. South Plaza on 10 November 2012.


Only on Galapagos - Adult Swallow-tailed Gull landing near Galapagos Sea Lion. South Plaza Island on 10 November 2012


Interesting article

Breeding Ecology of the Swallow-tailed Gull, Creagrus furcatus by Michael P. Harris. The Auk, Vol. 87, No. 2 (Apr., 1970), pp. 215-243