Silver Gull

Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae

Silver Gulls will always be associated with the sea, beaches and harbours, but they also live in large numbers in man made surroundings, parks, gardens, and dare we say it, cricket grounds. They can also be found far inland wherever there is water, whether fresh or brackish. They are supreme scavengers, living on almost anything, and they positively love rubbish dumps. Somehow, they retain their pristine appearance even in the most sordid of surroundings. Silver Gulls are typically known as Seagulls.

adult Silver Gull
Adult Silver Gull. Photo: John Spiers


Males and females are alike. The head, neck and body are snowy-white with the mantle, back and most of the wing being light grey. The tips and edges of the primaries are black with white spots along the edges and a white ‘mirror’ near the tip. The bill, legs and feet vary from brilliant scarlet to purple-red. The eye has a whitish iris and a scarlet orbital ring.




immature Silver Gull
Immature Silver Gull. Photo: John Spiers

Chicks hatch in a brown to greyish-brown down. In their first plumage juveniles have brown smudges on the head which fade soon after fledging. The mantle, scapulars and upper-wing coverts have brown mottling and there is a dark brown sub-terminal band on the tail. The bill, iris and orbital ring are dark brown with the legs and feet varying from flesh to blackish. They moult into adult plumage when about 12 months old.




Silver Gulls have a very varied diet. They eat invertebrates (anemones, squid, annelids, insects, crustaceans and arachnids), small vertebrates (fish, frogs, birds and mammals), and also some plant material. Feeding is done mainly during the day, but also at night. They steal food and eggs from other birds, including conspecifics. They also favour food from man, e.g. chips and other rubbish.

Breeding of Silver Gulls has been recorded throughout the year but mainly in July and August. They nest colonially off South Australia on marine islands, but also inland on islands in lakes, and salt-pans. The male establishes a small territory and is joined by a female, often his mate of the previous year. The nest is placed on the ground under trees and shrubs. The nest is a shallow cup of grass, samphire, reeds or dry seaweed depending on the materials on hand. Three eggs are the usual clutch. Incubation is by both sexes and the chicks fledge at about four weeks.

Where to find it.

Silver Gulls are a common species potentially found throughout inland South Australia in suitable habitat, offshore, and on marine waters. They frequent both sandy and rocky shores, inland freshwater and brackish lakes and manmade environments such as slaughterhouses, livestock pens, fields and lawns.

Adults may wander widely outside of breeding season while some populations move only short distances

Only the nominate race Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae novaehollandiae (Stephens, 1826) is found in South Australia.


Updated: 29/06/2019


Where to find it