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I'm confused by this excerpt from Historia de una gaviota y del gato que le enseñó a volar by Luis Sepúlveda. It almost looks like an English possessive construction "the gaviotas' pilot":

Llevaban seis horas de vuelo sin interrupciones y, aunque las gaviotas piloto las habían conducido por corrientes de aires cálidos que hicieron placentero el planear sobre el océano, sentían la necesidad de reponer fuerzas, y qué mejor para ello que un buen atracón de arenques.

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According to the DRAE:

6. m. U. en aposición, indica que la cosa designada por el nombre que le precede funciona como modelo o con carácter experimental. Piso, instituto piloto.

So it is a noun used in apposition (in English presumably = pilot gulls). There are also ballenas piloto for example (in English pilot whale).

Note in an answer angus provided a helpful link that provides a wealth of material on this topic:

http://hispanoteca.eu/gram%C3%A1ticas/Gram%C3%A1tica%20espa%C3%B1ola/Aposiciones%20e%20incisos.htm

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  • I see, the noun is Gaviotas as indicated by the plural verb, and piloto functions like an invariable adjective. I'll bet there're very specific and defined rules to apposition like in German, but I haven't encountered them yet in spanish. Mar 7 '17 at 17:42

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