Gull, Black headed

This gull is 38–44 cm long with a 94–105 cm wingspan. In flight, the white leading edge to the wing is a good field mark. The summer adult has a chocolate-brown head (not black, although does look black from a distance), pale grey body, black tips to the primary wing feathers, and red bill and legs. The hood is lost in winter, leaving just 2 dark spots. Immature birds have a mottled pattern of brown spots over most of the body. It breeds in colonies in large reed beds or marshes, or on islands in lakes, nesting on the ground. Like most gulls, it is highly gregarious in winter, both when feeding or in evening roosts. It is not a pelagic species and is rarely seen at sea far from coasts.

The black-headed gull is a bold and opportunistic feeder. It eats insects, fish, seeds, worms, scraps, and carrion in towns, or invertebrates in ploughed fields with equal relish. It is a noisy species, especially in colonies, with a familiar "kree-ar" call. Its scientific name means laughing gull.

This species takes two years to reach maturity. First-year birds have a black terminal tail band, more dark areas in the wings, and, in summer, a less fully developed dark hood. Like most gulls, black-headed gulls are long-lived birds, with a maximum age of at least 32.9 years recorded in the wild, in addition to an anecdote now believed of dubious authenticity regarding a 63-year-old bird.

Latin Name
Chroicocephalus ridibundus

Photos

When the bird was spotted

Date Location Title Seen by Interestingness
UK, Teesside and the North York Moors South Gare b.m.stokesley
UK, Teesside and the North York Moors over garden b.m.stokesley
Germany, Dagebüll at the seaside Hühnerhabicht
UK, Teesside and the North York Moors Margrove Ponds b.m.stokesley
UK, Teesside and the North York Moors in fields near Busby b.m.stokesley
Switzerland, Eschenz plenty of them on river Rhine and lake Constance Hühnerhabicht
Portugal, Algarve Faro b.m.stokesley
UK, Teesside and the North York Moors Redcar Beach b.m.stokesley
UK, Teesside and the North York Moors Saltholme mike421
UK, Teesside and the North York Moors Saltholme b.m.stokesley
Spain, Mallorca Seen at Albufera Nature Reserve b.m.stokesley
UK, Teesside and the North York Moors Marton mike421
Switzerland, not specified Black headed gull flying overhead mike421
UK, Farne Islands Staple Island mike421