The commonest gull in New Zealand, recently the numbers of red-billed gull have markedly declined. Mostly seen on coastal margins including braided river hapua (coastal lagoons) and estuaries, they breed in colonies. They are sometimes seen inland along braided river margins (distribution map – this is 2009. See here for the Report on the National Redbill Gull Census 2014-2016).
The red-billed gull (Larus novaehollandiae) is also known as the silver gull, tarāpunga, tarapunga (Māori), mackerel gull, Jackie (Chathams), akiaki, seagull, and redbilled gull. A medium sized gull, it is larger than the black-billed gull, measuring 37cm and weighing 240-320grams. Juveniles are commonly confused with black-billed gulls, as the colouring and size is similar. It is genetically different to red-billed ‘seagulls’ found elsewhere in the world, including SE Australia.
A white gull with grey wings, the beaks, feet, and eyelids are bright red-orange in mature adults. The main flight feathers are black with white tips. Juveniles have brown patches on their wings and back, and darker brown legs, bill, and iris.