Ornithological Note 16

Lesser Black-backed Gulls hunting hares

Luis Miguel Ruiz Gordón January 27, 2014
Country: Spain
Section(s): food, Food and Feeding

On numerous occasions I have had the opportunity to observe an interesting behaviour of cooperative hunting in the Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus). The observations took place in fields surrounding a large landfill at Pinto, Madrid province, Spain. Gulls especially visit it in winter, in numbers that have rapidly increased in recent years, as has been the case generally around Madrid, where regular wintering by Lesser Black-backed Gulls did not begin until the late 1990s¹. In addition to feeding at the dump, flocks of gulls visist nearby cereal fields and pastures, where they attack a diversity of animals. I have recorded successful predation on voles (Pitymys sp.), rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), hares (Lepus capensis) and Stone-curlews (Burhinus oedicnemus)², as well as failed attacks on several other species including the Crested Lark (Galerida cristata), Red-legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa) and Little Owl (Athene noctua). The accompanying , shot by me on 14th January 2003, is a good example of the behaviour of the gulls when trying to catch hares.

Editor’s notes:

¹Over 110,000 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were censused in Madrid province in January 2013 (1).

²In the diet of the Lesser Black-backed Gull the relatively frequent presence of voles (Microtidae), mice (Muridae) and different species of birds is well known, but not that of prey as large as rabbits and hares (Cramp, S. & Simmons, K.E.L., Eds. 1982. The Birds of the Western Palearctic, Vol. III. Oxford University Press, Oxford).

Recommended Citation

Ruiz Gordón, L.M. (2014). Lesser Black-backed Gulls hunting hares. HBW Alive Ornithological Note 16. In: Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow-on.100016
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