Galapagos Swallow-tailed Gull


The Swallow-tailed Gull found on the Galapagos Islands is truly an interesting bird.  Aside from their red eyes and hooked beak, these birds are the only true seabird that is nocturnal.  The red eye rim indicates the bird is in breeding season, which at the Galapagos Islands is pretty much year round.  Another interesting thing about these gulls is that their eyes are larger than any other species of gull.  This is to give them better night vision when hunting squid and small fish that come to the surface at night to feed on plankton.


These birds nest on the rocky cliffs of the eastern islands in the Galapagos.  Frequently the pairs stay together for several years although they are not truly monogamous.  Incubation of the eggs takes about 33 days and then it’s another two months or so before the chicks make their first flight. Both parents share in caring for the babies and will feed the youngsters for up to 90 days after their first flight.


This bird breeds almost exclusively in the Galapagos Islands.  When not breeding or caring for their young, these birds spend most of their lives at sea.  They only come ashore to nest.


See more of Kongo’s Galapagos images here.

Travel safe.  Have fun.


9 thoughts on “Galapagos Swallow-tailed Gull

    1. I’m generally not a big gull fan because they’re so common but these birds are truly unique! It was a treat to see them nesting and feeding their young.

  1. Really interesting piece, I’d not heard of these before, they are quite an unusual bird. You have seen such amazing things in the Galápagos Islands it must have been an amazing experience. Lovely pictures too, really sharp and clear, I especially like the last one, he has wonderful red feet!! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Katie. The recent Galapagos trip was beyond what I had imagined. It was like living in a PBS nature presentation show 24/7. I left there with a greater appreciation of the diversity and beauty in nature. I hope you have a chance to visit some day.

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