Silver gull – Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae

On a recent work trip to Sydney I was intrigued by the sight of a Silver gull wandering happily along one of the main roads in the CBD, about a kilometre away from all of his friends down at Circular Quay.

This sight is of course nothing exceptional as Silver gulls are well adapted to human environments, yet they are so ubiquitous at the sea-side it still seems jarring to see them away from there.

Silver gulls, or Sea gulls, as they are commonly referred to, aren’t found widely in our local area but are still seen from time to time at Cressbrook, Perseverance and Cooby Dams. They are loud, gregarious and often found in large flocks. They have become very adept at scavenging which has aided their spread around most of Australia, on the back of human settlements, especially around rubbish tips. They breed in spring in large offshore colonies, with the nest consisting of a simple scrape, typically lined with seaweed, and one to three eggs. Chicks take two years to reach full maturity, and is reached when a bird shows a bright orange beak and legs.

Urban environments offer a huge amount of resources for birds that can adapt to them, but this poses real problems for birds that can’t. Aided by the food they get from human societies, Silver gull populations are booming, and at many nesting locations they crowd out other colony nesting birds like Terns, that aren’t supported by human settlements. Don’t be surprised to one day have a Silver gull harassing you for chips in the Toowoomba CBD, but remember this isn’t as cute a scene as you may at first think it is.

This article first appeared in the High Country Herald on 27th of May 2024