Birda Logo
loading...
A photo of a Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus)
Kelp Gull

Kelp Gull

Larus dominicanus

The Kelp Gull, known scientifically as Larus dominicanus, is a robust seabird with a commanding presence along the coasts and islands of the Southern Hemisphere. This species exhibits a striking contrast between its black upper parts and wings, and the pure white of its head, underparts, and tail. The wingtips are adorned with small white "mirrors," adding a touch of elegance to its flight. Adult Kelp Gulls have a yellow bill marked with a red spot and legs of a greenish-yellow hue, which become more vivid during the breeding season.

Identification Tips

To identify the Kelp Gull, look for its size, which is intermediate between the lesser and great black-backed gulls of the northern Atlantic. Adults typically measure 54 to 65 cm in length, with a wingspan of 128 to 142 cm. The bill and tarsus measurements are also distinctive, with the bill ranging from 4.4 to 5.9 cm and the tarsus from 5.3 to 7.5 cm. Juveniles can be recognized by their black bill, grey-brown plumage with whitish edges, and a dark band in the tail. They mature over three to four years, gradually acquiring the adult's pale bill base and predominantly white head and underparts.

Habitat

Kelp Gulls favor coastal environments where they can be found on beaches, rocky shores, and islands. They are also known to frequent landfills, indicating their adaptability and opportunistic feeding habits.

Distribution

The Kelp Gull has a widespread distribution across the Southern Hemisphere, with subspecies found in South America, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, parts of Australia, New Zealand, Southern Africa, subantarctic islands in the Indian Ocean, southern and southwestern Madagascar, Antarctica, and Antarctic islands. The species is a rare vagrant to the United States.

Behaviour

Kelp Gulls are omnivorous and exhibit a variety of feeding strategies, including scavenging and actively hunting small prey. They have been observed engaging in unique behaviors such as pecking at the skin of living whales and dropping shellfish onto rocks to break them open. Their predatory tactics extend to attacking seal pups by first blinding them. The Kelp Gull's nest is a simple ground depression lined with vegetation and feathers, where typically 2 or 3 eggs are laid.

Song & Calls

The vocalization of the Kelp Gull is a distinctive and strident "ki-och," which can be heard echoing along the coastal habitats they frequent.

Breeding

During the breeding season, both male and female Kelp Gulls take part in nurturing their young, which emerge from the eggs laid in the ground nests.

Similar Species

The Kelp Gull can be confused with the lesser black-backed and great black-backed gulls but can be distinguished by its size and specific plumage characteristics. The Cape Gull, a subspecies, differs by having a darker iris and a more angular head with a smaller, shorter bill.

Diet and Feeding

Kelp Gulls are versatile feeders, consuming a wide range of food from carrion to live prey. They are known to exploit human-created food sources such as landfills, which has led to population increases in some areas.

Conservation status

The Kelp Gull is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, indicating that it does not face any immediate threat of extinction. However, its reliance on degraded environments and human refuse suggests a need for careful monitoring.

Kelp Gull Sounds

β€Œ
β€Œ
Recorded by: © 
App logo
Birda is a birdwatching app and community aimed at curious people who want to deepen their connection with nature.

Kelp Gulls on Birda

Photos
Sightings

More Gulls, Terns, Skimmers

Birda Logo

Your birdwatching journey like never before

Connect with nature in minutes
Take a walk, look out of the window and log the birds that you see. Feel good about those little connections to nature.
Discover the joy of birding
Find new birding spots, see more birds, share and celebrate with a like-minded community of nature lovers.
Play your part in saving nature
Logging your birding sightings and sessions turns into positive action for our planet. Every sighting counts.

Birda Blog

What Our Birders Say
Carrie
Makes you want to spot birds more
I think this app is fun. It makes you want to spot birds more so I guess in a way it encourages you to get out and about instead of sitting in front of the TV.
Safira V
Birding and wellbeing app
Birda is an excellent platform to share your love of Birding and is a great tool of encouragement for a Birding Beginner like me. Birda has a very kind and supportive community of Birding enthusiasts. For me BIRDA is not only a BIRDING but also a WELLBEING App.
Dunners12345
Great App
Great app to use for logging and communicating with others who are interested in birds
Mike T
Sense of Community
A great app, which is continually being improved. What really comes through is the passion of those behind the app. The sense of community is brilliant, so much help and support provided to new and/or in experienced birders.
Alex J
Friendly and helps to identify birds
Great birding app, good for logging your sightings, also has nice species guide. I'm enjoying the social aspect more than I expected, everyone seems friendly and helps to identify unknown birds. Good mix of newbies and experienced users.
Sacha0508
Simply fantastic
I love this app, it puts so much fun into recording the birds I’ve seen and heard while I’m out and about. The interface is user-friendly and suitable for all ages. It’s great to collect badges and to review my β€œlists”.
Bryan C
Clean and easy to use
Really enjoying this app, it's clean and easy to use. I love the ease of being able to add those one-off birds without starting a whole checklist. I also like the social aspect, like the parts of my Facebook I like, without the ads and junk, just birds. Can't wait to see it become more populated.
Unbridled Discoveries
Great app for bird lovers
I love this app! It’s a wonderful way to track birding sessions, and also connect you with fellow birders. I also really like the unidentified bird section, it’s a great community tool to help figure out what a never-before-seen bird is!
Nicole
Gets me outdoors more
I'm still loving this app. I use it most days & gets me outdoors more. Enjoying watching others progress and photo's, it's improved my wellbeing.... I love this app! I can keep a record of sightings and see what others have seen too.
Chudbond
Love Birda
I love this app. It really encourages you to log your sightings and the community is friendly and helpful.
As featured in
Connect with nature,
Find your flock
Download Birda - QR Code
Β© 2024 All rights reserved