Black-headed Gull

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Black-headed Gull
Missing image
Black-headed.gull.arp.750pix.jpg
Black-headed Gull in summer, on the North Devon coast, England


Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Charadriiformes
Family:Laridae
Genus:Larus
Species:L. ridibundus
Binomial name
Larus ridibundus
Linnaeus, 1766

The Black-headed Gull, (Larus ridibundus), is a small gull which breeds in much of Europe and Asia, and also in coastal eastern Canada. Most of the population is migratory, wintering further south, but some birds in the milder westernmost areas of Europe are resident.

This gull is 38-44cm long with a 94-105 cm wingspan. It breeds in colonies in large reedbeds 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.

Black-headed Gull is a bold and opportunist feeder, which will scavenge in towns or take invertebrates in ploughed fields with equal relish.

In flight, the white leading edge to the wing is a good field mark. The summer adult has a chocolate-brown head (not black, despite the name), pale grey body, black tips to the primary wing feathers, and red bill and legs. The hood is lost in winter, leaving just dark vertical streaks.

Black-headed Gull bird 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 homogeneous hood.

This is a noisy species, especially at colonies, with a familiar "kree-ar" call.


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