The Kumlien’s Gull
The Kumlien’s Gull is a rare and distinct species of gull that is found in the Arctic regions of North America. This gull is named after its discoverer, the Canadian ornithologist, Karl Johan Kumlien. The Kumlien’s Gull is a relatively new addition to the world of ornithology, having only been recognized as a distinct species in the 1950s. This gull is of interest to bird watchers, as it is a unique and rare species that is not commonly seen.
Taxonomy and Distribution of Kumlien’s Gull
The Kumlien’s Gull is a member of the Laridae family, which includes gulls, terns, and skimmers. It is classified as a subspecies of the Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides) and is characterized by its smaller size, darker plumage, and distinctive markings. The Kumlien’s Gull is found in the Arctic regions of North America, including Alaska, Canada, and Greenland. It is a migratory species, and during the winter months, it can be found in coastal areas of the United States, including the Great Lakes region.
Characteristics of Kumlien’s Gull
The Kumlien’s Gull is a small to medium-sized gull, with a wingspan of approximately 110cm. It is typically 38-45cm long and weighs between 375-700g. The Kumlien’s Gull has a distinctive appearance, with a white head, gray wings, and a pale pink or yellow bill. Its wings are marked with black tips and it has a black band across its tail feathers. Its legs and feet are yellow or pinkish-yellow. The Kumlien’s Gull is known for its distinctive call, which is a high-pitched "ki-ki-ki."
Conservation Status of Kumlien’s Gull
The Kumlien’s Gull is considered a species of "Least Concern" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This means that the species is not currently at risk of extinction. However, the population of Kumlien’s Gulls is relatively small, estimated at around 50,000 individuals. The species is also threatened by habitat loss, pollution, and climate change. The Kumlien’s Gull is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in the United States, which prohibits the hunting, killing, or capture of the species without a permit.
Threats and Challenges Facing Kumlien’s Gull
The Kumlien’s Gull faces several threats and challenges that impact its survival. Habitat loss is a significant threat to the species, as the Arctic regions where it breeds are under threat from oil and gas development, mining, and other industrial activities. Pollution is also a concern, as the Kumlien’s Gull may ingest toxins from contaminated prey or habitat. Climate change is another significant threat to the Kumlien’s Gull, as it may alter the availability of food and nesting sites. In addition, the Kumlien’s Gull is vulnerable to predation by introduced species such as rats and foxes.
Importance of Protecting Kumlien’s Gull
The Kumlien’s Gull is an important species to protect, as it plays a vital role in the Arctic ecosystem. The gull feeds on fish and invertebrates, which helps to regulate these populations. It is also an indicator species, meaning that its presence or absence can provide important information about the health of its habitat. Protecting the Kumlien’s Gull requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the threats and challenges facing the species. This may include measures to reduce habitat loss and pollution, as well as efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change. In addition, controlling introduced predator species may be necessary to protect the Kumlien’s Gull and other native species in its habitat.