Vintage bird art showing the Black-billed Gull (Larus bulleri) and Southern Black-backed Gull (Larus dominicanus).
"The birds which frequent the lake become very tame, one pair in particular readily taking a worm from my outstretched hand, and constantly coming close to the house for food. Nothing can exceed the pureness and delicacy of their plumage when in full feather. It is doubtful whether this kind ever visits the sea-coast."
Buller said of the Southern Black-backed Gull:
"This fine Gull, which ranges over the whole southern hemisphere, is extremely plentiful on all our coasts, preferring, however, the smooth sea-beaches and the sandy spits at the mouths of our tidal rivers; in these localities it is always to be met with either singly or associated in large flocks, and mixing freely with the smaller species of Gulls, Terns, Oyster-catchers, and other shore-birds. It frequents the harbours, and hovers around the vessels with much clamour, waiting to pick up any morsel that may chance to be thrown overboard†. It follows in the wake of the departing steamer as it quits the still waters for the stormy offing, and often accompanies it far out to sea, eagerly watching for stray bits of food as they float astern, and disputing their possession with the Albatros and Giant Petrel, on whose domain it has thus far trespassed."
Walter Buller KCMG (1838 - 1906) was a New Zealand lawyer and naturalist. His work, "A History of the Birds of New Zealand", was first published in 1873 and as an extended version in 1888. It is regarded as a classic of ornithology and New Zealand wildlife and describes several now extinct birds.
The artist who illustrated the birds was John Gerrard Keulemanns, regarded as one of the finest wildlife illustrators of all time.