There are two endemic species of gulls in the Galapagos, the Swallow-Tailed Gull and the Lava Gull. Of course since they are from the Galapagos they are unique. Swallow-tailed are the only night feeding shorebird and the Lava is the only mostly black gull.
The Swallow-tailed Gull (Creagrus furcatus) is an equatorial seabird in the gull family Laridae. It is the only species in the genus Creagrus, which derives from the Latin Creagra and the Greek kreourgos which means butcher, also from kreas, meat; according to Jobling it would mean “hook for meat” referring to the hooked bill of this species. It was first described by French naturalist and surgeon Adolphe-Simon Neboux in 1846. Its scientific name is originally derived from the Greek word for gull, “Glaros” and via Latin Larus, “gull” and furca “two-tined fork”. It spends most of its life flying and hunting over the open ocean. The main breeding location is on the rocky shores and cliffs of Hood, Tower and Wolf Island, with lower numbers on most of the other islands. It is more common on the eastern islands where the water is warmer.
It is the only fully nocturnal gull and seabird in the world, preying on squid and small fish which rise to the surface at night to feed on plankton.
The Lava Gull (Leucophaeus fuliginosus) is a large gull. One of the rarest gulls in the world, the entire population lives on the Galapagos Islands and is estimated at 300-400 pairs.
The adult plumage, acquired in the third year of life, consists of a black head, black wings, and with a dark gray body and a paler gray belly. The bill and legs are black, and the inside of the mouth is scarlet. They have white upper and lower eyebrows, with red lids. Immature gulls are generally dark brown.
Lava Gulls are solitary nesters, laying two olive-colored and well-camouflaged eggs that take 30 days to incubate. Young birds fledge at 60 days and are cared for by adults for a short period.
They are omnivores like most gulls, generally scavenging or stealing from nests, but will also catch fish, small crustaceans, and newly-hatched lizards.
There are a few collective nouns for the gull family. Screech, Colony, Squabble and Squall are all collective nouns assocaited with gulls. I totally approve of a squabble. Since the gulls in the Galapagos are unique, I think they should have unique collective nouns. I hereby declare the collective noun for the Swallow-tailed Gull is…Ghost. Watching them hunt along the ship at night will make you think you are seeing a ghost! I have two for the Lava Gull a Heat and then a geek reference a Spock. For those that are not Star Trek fans, Spock was from the volcanic planet Vulcan… I know it is a bit lame, but is my blog after all.
Gull Image Gallery from the Galapagos
Gull Photography Portfolio and Prints
You can see my gull photography and order prints…HERE.