Male Common Gull

Common Gull

Scientific name: Larus canus

Did you know: The Common Gull can mimic rainfall by “paddling” its feet, tricking worms into surfacing as they would during a shower.

What Do Common Gulls Look Like? (how to identify them)

Common Gulls, also familiarly known as mew gulls, are medium-sized seabirds boasting a wingspan typically between 110 and 130 cm. They feature a pale grey back contrasted by a pristine white head and underbelly, capped with striking black wingtips. 

Their yellow bills, accented with a red spot near the tip, and their dark brown eyes are distinctive identifiers. Juveniles display a browner mix with mottled feathers, which gradually transition to the adult’s sleeker plumage.

Differences Between Male and Female Common Gulls

Male and female Common Gulls are challenging to distinguish visually as they share similar markings and sizes. Behavioural observations during the breeding season are sometimes more telling, with males often displaying more assertive mating rituals.

What Do Common Gulls Eat?

Versatile in their diet, Common Gulls are true opportunists. They consume a varied menu ranging from insects and fish to small mammals and discarded waste. 

Their adaptability extends to their foraging habits, often seen following farmers’ ploughs to snatch unearthed worms and insects or skillfully pilfering meals from other birds.

Where Do Common Gulls Live? (inc. migration info)

Common Gulls are not as widespread inland but thrive along coasts and in some eastern UK counties. They breed predominantly in northern England and Scotland, favouring marshlands and lakesides. While many remain year-round, some populations migrate southwards during winter, seeking milder climates.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Common Gulls)

The call of the Common Gull is a distinctive high-pitched laugh, much like its relatives. During breeding seasons, their vocalisations become more frequent and varied, serving as communication between mates or a warning to potential intruders.

Fun Common Gull Facts (kid friendly)

  • Common Gulls can live up to 20 years in the wild.
  • Despite their name, they are actually one of the scarcer gull species in the UK.
  • They sometimes nest on buildings, adapting well to urban environments.
  • The legs of a Common Gull change colour with the seasons, from bright yellow in breeding to a duller shade in winter.
  • Young Common Gulls take up to four years to fully mature into their adult plumage.
  • They are part of the ‘Amber’ conservation status due to their declining numbers.
  • Common Gulls use their feet to ‘paddle’ the ground, simulating rain to lure worms to the surface.
  • They are known to form long-term pair bonds, often mating with the same partner for several seasons.

Facts About The Common Gull

Diet: They eat worms, insects, fish and carrion (and even rubbish)
Bird Family: Gulls and terns
Length: 39 - 42cm
Wingspan: 110 - 130cm
Weight: 300 - 490g
Scientific Name: Larus canus

The Common Gull Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

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

Common Gull Images

Male Common Gull Male
Female Common 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