The Dominican gull is a large bird that can be found commonly distributed throughout the southern hemisphere of the planet. In some places it is known as the cooking gull and its scientific name is Larus dominicanus, which belongs to the Charadriiform species group, belonging to the Laridae family like others such as the black-headed gull with the difference that it lives in coastal areas of the Southern Hemisphere. If we go to Antarctica there will be no confusion because it is the only one with white head plumage.
Description of the Dominican Gull
The Dominican gull has a mostly white upper body, characterized by a white breast, tail, head and belly, with the wings and a thick edge of the tail feathers being black. The beak is relatively short, yellow and with a red maraca on the tip of the lower side, its legs are medium-sized and have a color that may appear to be yellowish green.Its body dimensions range from 55 cm to 60 cm in height with a wingspan of approximately 128 cm. In the case of juveniles, the dorsal area is dark brown with scale-like reflections and has a characteristic loud and noisy call.
Distribution and habitat of the Dominican Gull
The Dominican gull lives especially in coastal areas, being easily found in regions of the southern hemisphere including Antarctica and Patagonia. They inhabit swamps, drains and places where rivers flow, including landfills, and industrial areas of cities. They have also been seen in areas where fresh water is available due to their feeding in garbage dumps.
Here we can see the Dominican gull in its natural habitat:
Behavior of the Dominican gull
The Dominican gull is a bird that does not waste any place to feed, and that is why they are often seen in dumps and dumps that are outdoors, it has scavenging habits and is a bird of predatory nature. Besides this, it is very territorial, so when other birds and humans approach their nests or their deposits, which can sometimes measure up to 4 meters high, even if they are in the incubation period, it will peek out and begin to emit its characteristic call that may have a vocalization similar to a shrill and repetitive “kiiii-osh!!!” in order to warn other members of the colony which without hesitation could pounce and hit with their beaks. The social behavior of this bird is unknown.
Feeding of the Dominican gull
The Dominican gull is a completely omnivorous bird, that is, it can eat any type of organic and vegetable food, which is why it can feed on garbage and even small land animals such as chicks and eggs of similar-sized waterfowl, as well as carrion, amphibians and small invertebrate animals, also fish, crustaceans, shellfish, and food scraps found floating in the water, on docks and near ports and fishing boats. Sometimes they are seen throwing prey such as mollusks that they find stuck to rocks into the air, dropping them on the rocks to break their shells and eat the inside.
When the Dominican gull is located in Antarctica, they are a great threat to the nests of the emperor penguin and other birds, where they have been seen nesting at the same time to take advantage of the amount of food that can be found at this time. As scavengers, they have been seen eating the carcasses of decomposing animals, gnawing bones and sometimes they have been seen eating right whales that have been alive for decades.
Reproduction of the Dominican gull
The breeding season of the Dominican gull is from September to January, nesting in large colonies and placing the nest in holes in rocks that are covered by vegetation that can measure no more than 60 cm, they are also located by opening shallow holes in the ground, in rocks and sometimes on roofs of houses and buildings near coastal areas. The nest will be composed of vegetation, shellfish shells, and feathers, or using a previously used nest. It lays 2 to 3 eggs per clutch that can measure approximately 71 mm x 51 mm and have different colors, although they usually have greenish tones with dark spots.
They incubate for about 30 days and when hatching occurs, the two parents will help with feeding until they reach youth, where after 7 weeks of hatching they can leave the nest and fend for themselves, until they are 4 years old, when they reach sexual maturity and can begin to reproduce.