Male Black-Headed Gull

Black-Headed Gull

Scientific name: Chroicocephalus ridibundus

Did you know? The Black-Headed Gull, or Chroicocephalus ridibundus, owes its Latin name (which translates to mean “laughing”) to its cheerful, laughter-like call—a delightful “kree-ar” that echoes across the UK’s waterways.

What Do Black-Headed Gulls Look Like? (how to identify them)

The Black-Headed Gull is a medium-sized bird commonly found in the UK, showcasing a striking contrast of colours. 

In the breeding season, its head dons a rich chocolate-brown hue, and its underparts turn a soft pink, influenced by its diet. With dark slate-grey wings, a sharp yellow bill, and vibrant red legs, this gull stands out in its natural habitat. 

Out of breeding season, its head turns white, speckled with black, giving it a distinguished look amongst its peers.

Differences Between Male And Female Black-Headed Gulls

Male and female Black-Headed Gulls are similar in appearance, making it a challenge to distinguish between them solely based on plumage. Both sexes share the same seasonal colour changes and body markings, which include a summer chocolate-brown head and a winter white head with dark spots.

What Do Black-Headed Gulls Eat?

Black-Headed Gulls are versatile feeders, their diet encompassing a wide range of foods. They primarily consume insects, fish, worms, and crustaceans, adapting their feeding tactics to their environment. 

In urban settings, they are known to eat scraps and carrion, demonstrating their opportunistic feeding behaviour that allows them to thrive in diverse habitats.

Where Do Black-Headed Gulls Live? (inc. migration info)

This gull species is prevalent across various landscapes including urban areas, farmlands, coastlines, and wetlands throughout the UK. Black-Headed Gulls breed in colonies on islands in lakes or large reed beds, preferring nesting sites on the ground. 

Chroicocephalus ridibundus

While many migrate southwards for winter, a significant number remain in the milder western regions of Europe, showcasing a flexible migratory pattern.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Black-Headed Gulls)

The call of the Black-Headed Gull is distinctive and memorable, characterised by a loud “kree-ar” sound that often draws comparisons to laughter. This vocalisation plays a crucial role in the social structure of gull flocks, especially in densely populated colonies during the breeding season.

Fun Black-Headed Gull Facts (kid friendly)

  • Their Latin name means “laughing head” because their calls sound like laughter.
  • They change their head colour from chocolate-brown in summer to white in winter.
  • They eat everything from fish and insects to chips dropped at the beach!
  • They love to gather in big groups, whether it’s for feeding or just hanging out.
  • While many travel to warmer areas in winter, some stay in the UK all year round.
  • These birds can live up to 30 years, with some even reportedly reaching the ripe old age of 32!
  • After their chicks hatch, they tidy up by removing eggshells from the nest.
  • They are known to follow ploughs in fields to snatch up any unearthed insects and worms.

Black-Headed Gull Video

Facts About The Black-Headed Gull

Diet: They eat worms, insects, crustaceans, fish and carrion.
Bird Family: Gulls and terns
Length: 33 - 37cm
Wingspan: 100 - 110cm
Weight: 200 - 400g
Scientific Name: Chroicocephalus ridibundus

The Black-Headed Gull Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

Black-Headed Gull Images

Male Black-Headed Gull Male
Female Black-Headed Gull Female
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Hatchling
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Nestling
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Chick
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Fledgling
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Juvenile