Annotated List of the Seabirds of the World - Gulls, Skuas and allies

Conservation rankings are from the preliminary guidelines set out by BirdLife International and posted to Seabirds Internet discussion group by John Cooper. 


Chionis alba Pale-faced Sheathbill (not globally threatened)
Also known as Wattled Sheathbill, Snowy Sheathbill, American Sheathbill, Greater Sheathbill, Snowy Paddy

Chionis minor Black-faced Sheathbill (not globally threatened)
Also known as Lesser Sheathbill or Lesser Paddy



Larus scoresbii Dolphin Gull (not globally threatened)
Also known as Scoresby's Gull

Larus pacificus Pacific Gull (NEAR THREATENED)
L. p. pacificus
L. p. georgii
Also known as Large-billed Gull or Australian Gull.

Larus belcheri Band-tailed Gull (not globally threatened)
Also known as Simeon's Gull

Larus atlanticus Olrog's Gull (VULNERABLE)
Monotypic (formally considered race of L. belcheri)
Also known as Simeon's Gull

Larus crassirostris Black-tailed Gull (not globally threatened)
ALso known as Temminck's Gull

Larus modestus Grey Gull (not globally threatened)

Larus heermanni Heermann's Gull (NEAR THREATENED)

Larus leucophthalmus White-eyed Gull (VULNERABLE)

Larus hemprichii Sooty Gull (not globally threatened)
Also known as Hemprich's Gull or Aden Gull

Larus canus Mew Gull (not globally threatened)
L. c. canus (Common Gull)
L. c. heinei (Eastern Common Gull)
L. c. kamtschatschensis (Kamtchatka Gull)
L. c. brachyrhynchus (Short-billed Gull)

Larus audouinii Audouin's Gull (CONSERVATION DEPENDENT)

Larus delawarensis Ring-billed Gull (not globally threatened)

Larus californicus California Gull (not globally threatened)
L. c. albertaensis
L. c. californicus

Larus marinus Great Black-backed Gull (not globally threatened)

Larus dominicanus Kelp Gull (not globally threatened)
Also known as Dominican Gull (NZ), Southern Black-backed Gull (Africa and Australia)

Larus glaucescens Glaucous-winged Gull (not globally threatened)

Larus occidentalis Western Gull (not globally threatened)

Larus livens Yellow-footed Gull (not globally threatened)

Larus hyperboreus Glaucous Gull (not globally threatened)

Larus glaucoides Iceland Gull (not globally threatened)

Larus argentatus Herring Gull (not globally threatened)

Larus armenicus Armenian Gull (not globally threatened)

Larus schistisagus Slaty-backed Gull (not globally threatened)
Also known as Pacific Gull or Kamchatka Gull(!)

Larus cachinnans Yellow-legged Gull (not globally threatened)

Larus fuscus Lesser Black-backed Gull (not globally threatened)

Larus ichthyaetus Great Black-headed Gull (not globally threatened)

Larus brunnicephalus Brown-headed Gull

 (not globally threatened)
Also known as Indian Black-headed Gull

Larus cirrocephalus Grey-headed Gull (not globally threatened)
L. c. cirrocephalus
L. c. poiocephalus
Also known as Grey-hooded Gull

Larus hartlaubii King Gull (not globally threatened)
Also known as Hartlaub's Gull

Larus novaehollandiae Silver Gull (not globally threatened)
L. n. novaehollandiae
L. n. forsteri

Larus scopulinus Red-billed Gull (not globally threatened)

Larus bulleri Black-billed Gull

Larus maculipennis Brown-hooded Gull

Larus ridibundus Common Black-headed Gull

Larus genei Slender-billed Gull

Larus philadelphia Bonaparte's Gull

Larus saundersi Saunders's Gull (ENDANGERED)

Larus serranus Andean Gull

Larus melanocephalus Mediterranean Gull

Larus relictus Relict Gull (NEAR THREATENED)

Larus fuliginosus Lava Gull (VULNERABLE)

Larus atricilla Laughing Gull

Larus pipixcan Franklin's Gull

Larus minutus Little Gull

Pagophila eburnea Ivory Gull

Rhodostethia rosea Ross's Gull

Xema sabini Sabine's Gull

Creagrus furcatus Swallow-tailed Gull

Rissa tridactyla Black-legged Kittiwake

Rissa brevirostris Red-legged Kittiwake (VULNERABLE)
Systematics and evolution of the Skuas

Multiple sources of evidence show that the skuas (Stercorariidae) are a monophyletic group, closely related to gulls. On morphological and behavioural evidence the Stercorariidae are divided into two widely divergent genera, Catharacta and Stercorarius, consistent with observed levels of nuclear and mitochondrial gene divergence. Catharacta skuas are large-bodied and with the exception of Great Skua, breed in the Southern Hemisphere. Stercorarius skuas (otherwise known as jaegers) are smaller bodied and breed exclusively in the Northern Hemisphere. Evidence from both mitochondrial and nuclear genomes and from ectoparasitic Phthiraptera lice shows that the Pomarine Jaeger, which has been recognized as being somewhat intermediate in certain morphological and behavioural characteristics, is much more closely related to species in the genus Catharacta, especially to the Northern Hemisphere-breeding Great skua, than it is to the other two Stercorarius skuas, the Parasitic Jaeger and Long-tailed Jaeger. Cohen et al., 1997 have proposed three possible explanations to account for this discordant aspect of skua phylogeny: (i) the segregation of ancestral polymorphism, (ii) convergent evolution of morphology and behaviour or (iii) inter-generic hybridization. The available evidence from both nuclear and mitochondrial genomes does not exclude any of these hypotheses. Thus, resolution of this enigma of skua phylogeny awaits further work.

Cohen BL, Baker AJ, Blechschmidt K, Dittmann DL, Furness RW, Gerwin JA, Helbig AJ, de Korte J, Marshall HD, Palma RL, Peter HU, Ramli R, Siebold I, Willcox MS, Wilson RH, Zink RM (1997) Enigmatic phylogeny of skuas. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B Biol. Sci. 264(1379): p181-90. 


Skuas and Jaegers

Catharacta skua Great Skua (not globally threatened)
Also known as Bonxie or Northern Skua

Catharacta antarctica Southern Skua (not globally threatened)
Taxonomy complex and controvertial. Two subspecies recognized:
C. a. antarctica,
C. a. hamiltoni

Catharacta lonnbergi Brown Skua (not globally threatened)

Catharacta chilensis Chilean Skua (not globally threatened)

Catharacta maccormicki South Polar Skua (not globally threatened)
Also known as MacCormick's Skua or Antarctic Skua

Stercorarius pomarinus Pomarine Jaeger (not globally threatened)
Also known as Pomarine Skua or Pomatarhine Jaeger

Stercorarius parasiticus Parasitic Jaeger (not globally threatened)
Also known as Arctic Skua

Stercorarius longicaudus Long-tailed Jaeger (not globally threatened)
S. l. longicaudus
S. l. pallescens
Also known as Long-tailed Skua


"No sooner has the dusk of evening arrived than the Skimmers begin to disperse, rise from their place of rest singly, in pairs, or in parties from three or four to eight or ten, apparently according to the degree of hunger they feel, and proceed in different directions along parts of the shores previously known to them, sometimes going up tide-rivers to a considerable distance. They spend the whole night on wing, searching diligently for food. Of this I had ample and satisfactory proof when ascending the St. John river in East Florida, in the United States schooner Spark. The hoarse cries of the Skimmers never ceased more than an hour, so that I could easily know whether they were passing upwards or downwards in the dark. And this happened too when I was at least a hundred miles from the mouth of the river."

John James Audubon (1840) in Birds of America, Vol. VII.

Rynchops niger Black Skimmer (not globally threatened)
R. n. niger
R. n. cinerascens
R. n. intercedens
Also known as American Skimmer

Rynchops flavirostris African Skimmer (not globally threatened)
Also known as Scissorbill

Rynchops albicollis Indian Skimmer (VULNERABLE)
Also known as Scissorbill

Helpful Literature

Chu, P.C. (1998) A phylogeny of the gulls (Aves: Larinae) inferred from osteological and integumentary characters. Cladistics 12: p1-14

Grant, P.J. (1986) Gulls: A guide to identification. 2nd edition. Academic Press.

Sangster, G. (1999) Relationships among gulls: new approaches. Dutch Birding 21: p207-218

Copyright © 2002 All rights reserved. Angus Wilson
Back to the Seabird List Home Page
To the Marine Mammal List Page
To the World's Best Pelagics
Back to the Ocean Wanderers Home Page