Black-headed Gull

The Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) is a species of bird that breeds in most of Europe and Asia, and coastal Canada. Most of the population is migratory and winters further south. There are some year round resident populations in westernmost Europe. Some birds will over-winter in northeastern North America, where it was formerly known as the Common Black-headed Gull. The Yurikamome mass transit system in Tokyo is named after this bird.

The Black-headed Gull is 15 to 17.5 inches long with a 37 to 41 inch wingspan. The summer adult has a chocolate-brown head (not black, despite the name), pale gray body, black tips to the primary wing feathers, and red bill and legs. The hood is lost in winter, leaving just dark vertical streaks. The young have a black terminal tail band, more dark in the wings, and, in the summer, a less fully developed dark hood. The noisy call is a familiar “kree-ar”.

The breeding habitat is reed beds or marshes, or island lakes. It nests on the ground. It is highly gregarious in the winter, both when feeding and roosting. It is rarely seen out at sea and typically stays near the coast. It is an opportunistic feeder and will scavenge in towns, and cultivated lands.