Larus michahellis Naumann, 1840
Common names: Yellow-legged Gull [En], Goéland leucophée [Fr], Gaviota patiamarilla [Es], Gabbiano reale zampegialle [It], Geelpootmeeuw [Nl]
Essaouira ● Morocco
Adults are similar to Herring Gulls but have yellow legs. They have a grey back, slightly darker than Herring Gulls but lighter than Lesser Black-backed Gulls. They are much whiter-headed in autumn, and have more extensively black wing tips with few white spots, just as Lesser Black-backed. They have a red spot on the bill as adults, like the entire complex. There is a red ring around the eye like in the Lesser Black-backed Gull but unlike in the Herring Gull which has a dark yellow ring.
First-year birds have a paler head, rump and underparts than those of the Herring Gull, more closely resembling first-year Great Black-backed Gulls in plumage. They have a dark bill and eyes, pinkish grey legs, dark flight feathers and a well-defined black band on the tail. They become lighter in the underparts and lose the upperpart pattern subsequently. By their second winter, birds are essentially feathered like adults, save for the patterned feathers remaining on the wing coverts. However, their bill tips are black, their eyes still dark, and the legs are a light yellow flesh colour.
There are two subspecies of the Yellow-legged Gull:
• Larus michahellis michahellis Naumann, 1840. Mediterranean.
• Larus michahellis atlantis (Dwight, 1922), syn. Larus fuscus atlantis Dwight, 1922. Macaronesia (Canary Islands, Madeira, Azores).
Birds breeding on the Atlantic coasts of Morocco, Portugal and Galicia (and spreading north from there) are usually also included here, but are sometimes considered to be a third subspecies L. m. lusitanius. Atlantic Ocean birds have darker wings and back by comparison with Mediterranean birds, creating a more pronounced contrast to the white parts.
Biology: The call is a loud laugh which is deeper and more nasal than the call of the Herring Gull.
They are omnivores like most Larus gulls, and they will scavenge on rubbish tips and elsewhere, as well as seeking suitable prey in fields or on the coast, or robbing smaller gulls and other seabirds of their catches.
Habitat: In recent decades, the Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis) has become a problematic species in many Mediterranean countries, mainly because it interferes with human interests. However, this gull also has a negative impact on several other bird species, many of which are classified as endangered. Two different European Union Action Plans are currently under development with the aim of decreasing the availability of food derived from human activities, such as garbage and fishery discards, which are considered to be the main causes of the superpopulations of this gull.
Distribution: The Yellow-legged Gull is a large gull of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The breeding range is centred around the Mediterranean Sea. In North Africa it is common in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia and increasing in places.
Wikipedia, Yellow-legged Gull
Ramos R., Ramírez F., Sanpera C., Jover L., Ruiz X., 2009. Diet of Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis) chicks along the Spanish Western Mediterranean coast, Journal of Ornithology, Volume 150, Number 1, , pp. 265-272.