Family Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Least Concern

Swallow-tailed Gull (Creagrus furcatus)


French: Mouette à queue fourchue German: Gabelschwanzmöwe Spanish: Gaviota tijereta

Larus furcatus


, 1846,

Monterey, California; error = Galapagos Islands


Morphometric analysis indicates that this is a particularly distinctive species. Monotypic.


Galapagos, mainly in E half of archipelago; also Malpelo I, off W Colombia. Disperses offshore along South American coast from Ecuador to C Peru, occasionally to C Chile.

Descriptive notes

51–61 cm; 610–780 g; wingspan 124–139 cm. Very distinctive.  A strikingly patterned gull with deeply forked tail; breeding adult has dark grey head,... read more


Range of calls thought to function in echolocation; most frequent call is a rattle interspersed by... read more


Virtually endemic to the Galapagos Is, where nests on all major and several minor islands, but... read more

Food and feeding

Feeds mostly at night, but also by day. The most nocturnal of all gulls, with associated and characteristic large eyes. The ability to be... read more


Breeds throughout year; very asynchronous across Galapagos, but individual subcolonies are synchronized by social interactions. Breeding... read more


Adults leave colony after breeding, but return in 4–5 months, often to their previous nest-... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Total population c. 10,000–15,000 pairs in more than 50 colonies on all major islands; 50 pairs on Malpelo I, Colombia.... read more

Recommended citation

Burger, J., Gochfeld, M., Garcia, E.F.J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Swallow-tailed Gull (Creagrus furcatus). 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 7 December 2019).