GULLS, TERNS & SKIMMERS Laridae
- 99 species worldwide
- DR personal total: 77 species (77%), 65 photo'd
Larids are very well known worldwide, as they are composed of the
Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers. Each group has traditionally been placed in
its own family, and I have had family pages on this site about each for
years. There close relationships to each other has also been apparent
for decades. In 1998, responding to preliminary molecular evidence, the
AOU downgraded each group (plus the skuas) into a subfamily of the
Laridae. I have been hesitant to do so, partly because the evidence was
somewhat contradictory, and partly because each group is so unique.
Indeed, as to the Skuas, I was correct. The current evidence is that it
is a separate family level clade. But the bulk of recent data (e.g.,
Baker et al. 2007) is that terns and skimmers are embedded within the
Laridae, and that Laridae is non not monophylectic unless they all are
At this point I have reduced the three
major groups to subfamily status, consistent with all other major
checklists (e.g., IOC, Dickinson 2003). Click on each group below to
reach a page on each group. Some pages have not been updated and list
their group as a family.
Photos: The flock of California Gull Larus californicus and Western Gull L. occidentalis (top) was following a Monterey Bay boat on 21 May 2006. The adult Mew Gull L. brachyrhynchus was at Pebble Beach, California, on 7 Feb 2009. The adult and young Elegant Tern Sterna elegans were at Moss Landing, California, on 15 Sep 2008. The Black Skimmer Rhynochops niger was at Alamedo Co., California, on 20 July 1978 . All photos © D. Roberson; all rights reserved.
Bibliographic notes: These are discussed on the subfamily pages.
American Ornithologists' Union. 1998.
Check-list of North American Birds. 7th ed. A.O.U., Washington,
A.J., S.L. Pereira, and T.A. Paton. 2007. Phylogenetic relationships
and divergence times of Charadriiformes genera: Multigene evidence for
he Cretaceous origin of at least 14 clades of shorebirds. Biology
Letters 3: 205-209.
Burger, J., and M. Gochfeld. 1996. Family Laridae (Gulls) in del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., & Sargatal, J., eds. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 3. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
Dickinson, E., ed. 2003. The Howard &
Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. 3d ed. Princeton
Univ. Press, Princeton, N.J.
Gill, F., M. Wright, and D. Donsker, D. (2009). IOC World Bird Names (version 2.0). On-line [accessed Aug 2009].