Larus sabini (Sabine's gull) 

Mikstertmeeu [Afrikaans]; Vorkstaartmeeuw [Dutch]; Mouette de Sabine [French]; Schwalbenmöwe [German]; Gaivota de Sabine [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Charadriiformes > Family: Laridae >  Genus: Larus

Larus sabini (Sabine's gull)  Larus sabini (Sabine's gull) 
Sabine's gull, offshore from Cape Town, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©] Sabine's gull, offshore from Cape Town, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Mainly breeds above 60° North in Eurasia and North America, travelling south in the non-breeding season to the Pacific coast of South America as well as the entire cold, western coast of Africa. Within southern Africa it is common offshore of Namibia and western South Africa, while more scarce along the southern coast up to KwaZulu-Natal. It spends most of its time out to sea on the continental shelf, and is rarely seen ashore.

Distribution of Sabine's gull in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Movements and migrations

Mainly present in southern Africa in the period from September-May, although it very rarely stays over winter.


It mainly eats small fish, marine invertebrates and offal and discards from fishing vessels, doing most of its foraging by plucking prey or food scraps from the sea surface, or upending to catch animals at a greater depth.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 



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