Family Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)


Lava Gull (Larus fuliginosus)


French: Mouette obscure German: Lavamöwe Spanish: Gaviota fuliginosa

Larus fuliginosus


, 1841,

Santiago (James) Island, Galapagos


Some authors place this species and other “hooded gulls” in genus Leucophaeus (see L. modestus). Not closely related to other dark-bodied gulls, but possibly relatively recently derived from L. atricilla. Monotypic.


Galapagos Is.

Descriptive notes

51–55 cm; mean 380 g. Highly distinctive: adults have head sooty brown to blackish, with white eyelids; the dark hood is not seasonally variable, unlike in other... read more


Vocal in territory defence, especially against conspecifics, which are met with repeated “kow... read more


Mainly sandy and gravelly beaches; also frequents harbours, and associates with boats. The 12... read more

Food and feeding

Seabird eggs, young marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus), small fish, crustaceans, offal and scraps. Mainly a scavenger at... read more


Nests throughout year, with peak May–October. Solitary nester with large territory, usually on sandy beach or low outcrop close... read more


Non-migratory. Confined to Galapagos archipelago and not known to have occurred away from these... read more

Status and conservation

VULNERABLE. The world’s rarest gull. Based on recent estimates of 78–81 individuals in S Santa Cruz I and 20–29 individuals on Genovesa, and assuming that... read more

Recommended citation

Burger, J., Gochfeld, M., Garcia, E.F.J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Lava Gull (Larus fuliginosus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 19 February 2020).