Gull vs. Albatross

Gull vs. Albatross

Gull and albatross are types of seabirds that belong to different families. There are more than 50 species of gull that belong to the family Laridae and around 20 species of albatross, that are members of the family Diomedeidae. Gulls can be found all over the world, while albatrosses usually reside in the Southern hemisphere and in the southern and northern parts of the Pacific Ocean. Gulls and albatrosses have similar color of the plumage and lifestyle, but they differ in many aspects:

Habitat

Gulls inhabits various coastal and inland habitats. They can be found on the lakes, in arctic tundra, on the sea and in the urban areas. Unlike gulls, albatrosses spend most of their time on the sea. They can be seen on the solid ground only during the breeding season.

Size and Morphology

Gulls have heavy body, medium-sized neck and legs and long, narrow wings. They can reach 11 to 30 inches in length and 4.2 ounces to 3.8 pounds of weight. Albatrosses are much larger birds. They can reach 35 to 51 inches in length and 17 to 22 pounds of weight. Albatrosses have strong body, large, cambered wings and long legs. Their webbed feet lack hind toe.

Color of the Plumage

Most gulls are grey or white colored, with black markings on the head and wings. Albatrosses are similar in color. Upper part of their wings is dark colored, while bottom side is covered with black and white markings. Some species of albatross are completely white.

Bill

Gulls have heavy, slightly hooked bill, while albatrosses have long, hooked bill with sharp edges.

Flying Technique

Both gulls and albatrosses use air currents to fly effortlessly. Albatrosses spend more time in the air than gulls. Thanks to their extremely large wings and technique called dynamic soaring, they can stay aloft with little flapping.

Diet

Gulls are omnivores. They eat fish, insects, earthworms, rodents, reptiles, amphibians, eggs, seeds, fruit and garbage. Albatrosses are carnivores. Their diet is based on fish, cephalopods, crustaceans and carrion. Unlike gulls, albatrosses have special glands in the nasal cavities which facilitate elimination of excess salt.

Reproduction

Gulls nest in large colonies on the beaches. They construct large nests and produce 2 to 3 eggs per season. Incubation period lasts 20 to 26 days. Both parents take care of their chicks and aggressively attack intruders. Albatrosses nest on the remote islands. Female lays one egg per season. Incubation period lasts 70 to 80 days. Both parents take part in the incubation of an egg and in the rearing of chick, which sometimes lasts up to one year.

Lifespan

Gull can survive up to 40 years in the wild, while albatross lives 50 years on average.

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