Bird’s ID – Gray Gull – # 224
The Gray Gull, (Leucophaeus modestus) is a medium-sized gull native to South America. Unusual among gulls, it breeds inland in the extremely dry Atacama Desert in northern Chile, although it is present as a non-breeding bird along much of the Pacific coast of South America.
The sexes are similar in grey gulls. Adults grow to a length of about 45 cm (18 in) and weigh some 360 to 400 g (13 to 14 oz). The head is white in summer but brownish-grey in winter. The body and wings are grey with the dorsal surface rather darker than the ventral region. The flight feathers are black and the inner primaries and the secondaries have white tips, visible in flight. The tail has a band of black with a white trailing edge. The legs and beak are black and the iris is brown. The call is similar to that of the laughing gull (Leucophaeus atricilla).
The typical habitat of the grey gull is sandy beaches and mudflats along the western coasts of South America where it probes with its beak in the sediment for invertebrate prey, particularly mole crabs. It also eats fish and ragworms, scavenges for offal and sometimes follows fishing boats.
The Gray Gull is listed as # 224 on my list of “lifers”