Family Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Least Concern

Silver Gull (Larus novaehollandiae)


French: Mouette argentée German: Silberkopfmöwe Spanish: Gaviota plateada australiana

Larus Novæ-Hollandiæ


, 1826,

New South Wales, Australia


Some recent authors place this species and other “masked gulls” in genus Chroicocephalus (see L. philadelphia). A recent molecular study indicated that this species was sister to L. bulleri#R. May be closely related to, and is sometimes considered conspecific with, L. hartlaubii. Morphometric analysis of skeletal characters links present species with L. serranus, L. maculipennis and L. cirrocephalus. Race scopulinus sometimes treated as a separate species (e.g. in HBW), but distinguishing characters few and minor; scopulinus hybridizes with L. bulleri rarely, even where breeding alongside (L Rotorua). Tasmanian birds sometimes separated as race gunni, but variation only clinal. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. n. forsteri Mathews, 1912 – N Australia; New Caledonia and Loyalty Is.
  • L. n. novaehollandiae Stephens, 1826 – Silver Gull – S Australia and Tasmania.
  • L. n. scopulinus J. R. Forster, 1844 – Red-billed Gull – New Zealand, breeding mainly on E coasts of North I and South I, and inland at L Rotorua (North I); also Stewart I, Chathams, Snares, Aucklands and Campbell I.
  • Descriptive notes

    38–43 cm; 195–430 g (nominate) or 150–366 g (scopulinus); wingspan 91–96 cm. White head, body and tail, blending into grey mantle, back and... read more


    Noisy; commonest call, loud harsh grating squeal, “kwarr” or “kwe-aarrr”; also gives frantic-... read more


    Both coastal and inland locations, frequenting sandy and rocky shores, parks, beaches and rubbish... read more

    Food and feeding

    Very varied. The natural diet includes cnidarians, squid, annelids, insects, crustaceans, arachnids, small fish, frogs, birds and... read more


    Recorded in all months. Lays from March to November in W Australia, some pairs raising two broods per year; from July in S; ‘winter... read more


    Nominate race may wander widely outside breeding season: some populations move short distances,... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Abundant and increasing, especially in S of range. Over 500,000 pairs at c. 200 colony sites in Australia, some of which number 40,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Burger, J., Gochfeld, M., Kirwan, G.M. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). Silver Gull (Larus novaehollandiae). 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).