Earthworms in the diet of herring gulls (Larus argentatus) breeding on an off-shore island

Tom W. Pennycott*, David Grant, Ruedi G. Nager

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


Pellets of indigestible material regurgitated by Herring Gulls Larus argentatus breeding on Lady Isle, Firth of Clyde, Scotland, were collected in 2018 and 2019 and examined for earthworm chaetae. Nearly two-thirds (65.6%) of the 314 pellets came from gulls that had consumed one or more earthworms. Significantly fewer pellets (57.6%) contained chaetae in 2018, a relatively dry May to July, than in 2019 (72.0%) when rainfall was close to the long-term average for May to July. There were significant associations between the presence of large quantities of terrestrial vegetation in the pellet and the detection of large numbers of earthworm chaetae and/or fragments of terrestrial arthropods, suggesting that recent consumption of these food items is likely when pellets contain large quantities of vegetation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-134
Number of pages4
JournalBird Study
Issue number1
Early online date6 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2020


  • Gulls
  • Diet
  • Earthworms


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