The Mediterranean Gull is a medium-sized, graceful bird that inhabits the coasts of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. It is endemic to these geographical regions, inhabiting both shoreline and inland waters. This attractive species is a regular but uncommon visitor to other parts of the world. It exists in small numbers and is classified as a vulnerable species. In this article, we shall explore the unique characteristics of this species and their importance for our environment.
The Mediterranean Gull is approximately 45cm in length and has a wingspan of around 94cm. Its upperparts are grey-brown, while its underparts are white. Its head is white, with a black hood and black around its eyes. Its bill is yellow, with a red base, and its legs are pink or orange. The most visible difference between males and females is their bill color, in which the female has a slightly brighter yellow color. Juveniles tend to be browner, with streaked feathers.
Habitat and Distribution
The habitat of the Mediterranean Gull is mainly beaches, salt marshes and lake shores. In winter they can also be found inland near rivers, lakes, and ponds. They inhabit the coasts of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, but can also be found in other parts of the world, especially during migration.
Diet and Hunting
The Mediterranean Gull mainly feeds on crustaceans, aquatic insects and small fish. They often hunt in groups and take advantage of their diving capabilities to catch their prey. They also consume other food items such as carrion, and will follow the plough during the harvesting season to take advantage of insects and small animals that flee from the disturbance.
Breeding and Nesting
The Mediterranean Gull’s breeding behaviour is highly unique. They are monogamous and, unlike other gulls, migrate as a pair. Their nest, which is generally located in a natural cavity, is made out of seaweed, straw and other material. The female usually lays 2 to 3 eggs and both parents are involved in incubating the eggs. Once the chicks hatch, they are looked after by both parents who take turns at feeding them.
Migration and Movements
The Mediterranean Gull is a migratory species. They migrate to West Africa, North Africa and Europe in the fall, and return to their original nesting grounds in the spring. During migration, and also at times when there are adverse weather conditions, they form flocks and often use thermals to travel distances.
The Mediterranean Gull has cultural significance for some societies, particularly in Europe and North Africa. In some parts it is regarded as a beneficial bird, since it feeds on small fish which helps the maintenance of local fish stocks. It is also believed that the sight of these graceful birds dispels bad luck.
The Mediterranean Gull can live for up to 25 years In the wild.
It is the only species of gull that builds its nest in cavities.
Due to its graceful flying ability and beautiful plumage, it is sometimes known as the “swallow gull.”
The Mediterranean Gull is a fascinating species that is both aesthetically pleasing and important to the ecosystem. It is a vulnerable species, and unfortunately its numbers are decreasing due to human activity and environmental changes. We must strive to protect this species, as well as all of our planet’s wildlife, to ensure they continue to be a part of our lives and our environment.
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