Fun Lava Gull Facts For Kids

Ogrima Mukherjee
Jan 31, 2023 By Ogrima Mukherjee
Originally Published on Aug 27, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
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Lava gull facts include that there are less than 300-400 pairs in the world.

The lava gull (Leucophaeus fuliginosus), also known as the Galapagos lava gull, is endemic to the Galapagos Islands. It prefers to nest ground level in calm water near the shore, like lagoons, pools, and ponds.

These gulls are also placed in the genus Larus and named lava gulls (Larus fuliginosus). In adult plumage of the lava gull, the lava-colored red lids between white upper and lower eyebrows and the mouth are scarlet, making them appropriately named. They have a dark hooded sooty brown-black head.

The wings and body of this species are dark gray, the former lined with white on the leading edge. The upper tail is white, and the lower tail is dark gray.

The bill and legs are black. The wings and bodies of immature gulls are generally chocolate-colored or dark brown. This species is not sexually dimorphic (male and female birds look the same).

The female lays two olive-colored eggs, and they breed whenever it is viable. They are categorized as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List.

For more relatable content, check out these ani bird facts and eastern kingbird facts for kids.  

Lava Gull Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a lava gull?

The Galapagos lava gull is a bird of the Laridae family.

What class of animal does a lava gull belong to?

The lava gulls are hooded gulls belonging to the class Aves.

How many lava gulls are there in the world?

There are 300-600 individuals in the world; lava gulls are the rarest gull in the world.

Where does a lava gull live?

Lava gulls are endemic to the Galapagos Islands; almost the entire population is concentrated in the Santa Cruz, Isabela, San Cristobal, and Genovesa Islands in particular.

What is a lava gull's habitat?

Lava gulls (Larus fuliginosus) nest in calm waters near the ocean like lagoons, ponds, and pools.

Who do lava gulls live with?

These birds are monogamous. The adult lava gulls are solitary nesters and live alone in pairs with newly hatched juveniles if they have any.

How long does a lava gull live?

A Galapagos lava gull has a long lifespan of 49 years.

How do they reproduce?

The adult lava gulls are solitary nesters which nest 328 ft (100 m) apart and live alone in pairs with newly hatched juveniles. They are very territorial and defend breeding territories of roughly 21528 sq ft (2000 sq.

meters) from nest predators like owls, frigatebirds, and other lava gulls. Lava gulls (Larus fuliginosus) create their nest, line with plant materials, on the ground, near calm waters like lagoons and pools, protected by coastal vegetation.

The female Galapagos lava gulls lay two olive-colored eggs that take up to 32 days to incubate.

They can breed throughout the year, but records of lava gulls breeding are concentrated from May to October. The newly hatched young birds fledge at 55 days and continue to be cared for by the adults for several weeks.

What is their conservation status?

The Galapagos lava gull is categorized as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. Although their population is stable, it is threatened by a number of factors. Their population is small and endemic to the Galapagos Islands.

Lava Gull Fun Facts

What do lava gulls look like?

Unlike other dark hooded gulls, the black hood of lava gulls does not vary in color depending on the season.

The adult plumage of these birds consists of a sooty brown-black head. The wings and body of this species are dark gray, the former lined with white on the leading edge.

The upper tail is white, and the lower tail is dark gray. The bill and legs are black. The eyes have white upper and lower eyebrows with red lids, while the inside of the mouth is scarlet.

The feathers of immature gulls are generally chocolate-colored or dark brown. It takes almost three to four years for a lava gull to attain adult plumage.

How cute are they?

Lava gulls are very cute; while they aren't very colorful, the distinctive white upper and lower eyebrows with red lids are very attractive and memorable. Their mouth is scarlet in color and can be seen very clearly when they emit their loud calls.

How do they communicate?

Like most other gulls, lava gulls communicate mainly by sounds and visual signals. Lava gulls, in particular, have a loud and long gull-like call. The Galapagos lava gull displays aerial and ground displays before it mates.

How big is a lava gull?

Lava gull (Larus fuliginosus) is 20–22 in (51 to 55 cm) long. The lava gull is slightly larger than the ring-billed gull and approximately the same size as kelp gulls. It is twice the size of small pigeon guillemot.

How fast can a lava gull fly?

Most gulls fly at speeds between 9.3-17.4 mph (15-28 kph).

How much does a lava gull weigh?

Lava gull (Larus fuliginosus) weighs 13 oz (380g), which is approximately the same as a black-headed gull.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names to differentiate between the two sexes. They are simply referred to as male lava gulls or female lava gulls. They do not differ in physical characteristics either.

What would you call a baby lava gull?

The newly hatched baby lava gull is called a chick.

What do they eat?

Like most gull species belonging to the Larus genus, lava gulls are omnivores. They usually live around the shore and scavenge on fish, crustaceans, iguanas, etc.

They don't venture far inland or onto the ocean in search of food. This scarcity of food in their territory is one of the reasons why the lava gull is categorized as Vulnerable by the IUCN, even though their population is stable.

Are they dangerous?

They are not particularly dangerous to humans but can be very aggressive and territorial towards other birds of their species and nest predators. Their strong bill and legs are black with talons and are used to defend their nests against predators.

Would they make a good pet?

No, they would not make a good pet. These lava gulls are wild sea birds endemic to the Galapagos Islands; their natural habitat cannot be replicated well enough for them to be comfortable in captivity.

Moreover, the population of this species is already in the minority; it is best to leave them alone and breed naturally to maintain their numbers.

Did you know...

The oldest wild bird recorded and tagged is a female Laysan albatross named Wisdom and is over 69 years old. She has continued to lay eggs well into her 60s.

The lava gulls are named appropriately after lava rocks which are dark gray in color, similar to their plumage. In adult plumage of the lava gull, the lava-colored red lids and the mouth are scarlet, making them very appropriately named.

The lava gull is the rarest gull in the world. Its population is endemic to the Galapagos Islands; the most significant part of the entire population, approximately 81 individuals, lives on Santa Cruz Island.

The Galapagos lava gull has a wide wingspan of 51 in (130 cm), which is a common characteristic among gulls.

This lava gull species is considered to be closely related to the laughing gull, which is also from the Laridae family.

Are lava gulls endangered?

The Galapagos lava gull is categorized as Vulnerable by the IUCN. Although the species population is stable, there are fewer than 300-400 pairs globally. This small population is threatened by other predator species like owls, frigate birds, and other lava gulls. Their endemic population, restricted feeding ground, and fishing activities are the main threats.

Do lava gulls migrate?

No, lava gulls are endemic to the Galapagos Islands; almost the entire population is concentrated in the Santa Cruz, Isabela, San Cristobal, and Genovesa Islands in particular. They don't venture far inland or onto the ocean in search of food.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our grey heron facts and rhinoceros hornbill facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable lava gull coloring pages.

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Written by Ogrima Mukherjee

Bachelor of Technology specializing in Computer Science

Ogrima Mukherjee picture

Ogrima MukherjeeBachelor of Technology specializing in Computer Science

Ogrima brings a wealth of knowledge and skills to her craft. With a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from GITAM University, she possesses a strong foundation in technology. However, her keen interest in writing has allowed her to leverage her skills and passion to create high-quality content in various niches. Ogrima's extensive experience in content writing and social media copywriting showcases her versatility and adaptability as a writer. Her ability to create engaging and well-researched articles tailored specifically for children sets her apart.

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