What is the Swallow-Tailed Gull?
The Swallow-Tailed Gull (Creagrus furcatus) is a species of large seabird that is native to the coasts of Peru and Chile. It is the only gull species to exclusively inhabit the coastline of South America. The bird is unique looking with a large bill and distinctive swallow-tailed wings. It is grey in color with a white head and neck, black tips on its feathers and yellow eyes. The swallow-tailed gull can typically be seen in pairs, as it is a monogamous species that typically mates for life.
Where do Swallow-Tailed Gulls Live?
Swallow-tailed gulls normally inhabit most of the coastal waters of Peru and Chile in South America. This species may also migrate to Northern Peru and Colombia for the winter season. They are generally found near the ocean so they can feed on the various schools of fish that swim near the coast. The gulls also inhabit rocky beaches, cliffs, and sand dunes close to the shore.
What Do Swallow-Tailed Gulls Eat?
Swallow-tailed gulls are omnivorous, meaning they will eat both plant and animal matter. They mainly feed on fish, which they catch with their large bills, as well as plankton, squid, shrimp and other small sea creatures. They will also scavenge for scraps of food on the shore and eat insects and other small land animals. They typically hunt alone or in pairs, circling over the water and plunging their heads underwater to catch prey.
How do Swallow-Tailed Gulls Reproduce?
The swallow-tailed gulls typically begin nesting in the summer months after forming strong pair bonds with their mates. They build their nests on cliff ledges close to the ocean and mark out their territories with loud calls. The female generally lays two to three eggs, which take around 34 days to hatch. The parents take turns caring for the young gulls for about two months. Once the chicks are strong enough to fly, the adults will migrate with them to find food and teach them basic hunting skills.
Are Swallow-Tailed Gulls Endangered?
The Swallow-tailed gull is classified as Least Concern on the IUCN’s Red List, meaning the species is not immediately endangered and numbers are considered stable. Additional research is needed to assess the potential long-term threats and conservation measures may become necessary if their numbers start to crash. One of the main threats to the Swallow-tailed gulls is overfishing, as their food sources are dwindling as fish stocks are reduced. Pollution and destruction of coastal areas have also damaged their habitat.
The Swallow-Tailed Gull is an iconic and unique species of seabird native to the coasts of Peru and Chile. It has a unique look and behavior, along with the fact that it is the only gull species to dwell on the South American coastline. The Swallow-Tailed Gull is currently listed as Least Concern, but more needs to be done to preserve its numbers and habitat. With conservation efforts, this beautiful bird may remain a common sight along the coasts of South America for many more years to come.
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