Largest gull in the Western Paleartic, with large wings, massive head and bill. White head, underbody and tail, with slaty black back and upperwings. Bill yellow, with red gonydeal spot. Legs pink, iris yellow, with red orbital ring. Juvenile heavily mottled white and pale brown, with all dark bill.
Sandy or rocky coasts, estuaries and open sea. Locally larger inland waters, fields and moorland.
Breeds on vegetated islands, dunes, flat-topped stacks, sometimes salt-marsh islands among bushes.
Larus marinus is a widespread breeder in coastal areas of northern and western Europe,
which constitutes >50% of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population
is large (>110,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Although there were
declines in Iceland and the Republic of Ireland during 1990-2000, populations in the
rest of its range increased or were stable, and the species increased overall.
This gull inhabits marine coasts of the Atlantic Ocean and the Baltic Sea. In Europe it is breeding in France and from the British Isles to Norway. The birds of the southern part of this distribution area are largely sedentary. Those of the north move to the south in winter. The population of the European Union amounts to 30000 breeding pairs, the total European population to 120000 pairs. In many regions this species has increased during the last decades, and it has colonised some new regions, e. g. in Germany and the Netherlands. Currently its populations seems stable
Omnivorous and opportunistic. Fish, birds and their chicks and eggs, mammals, invertebrates, insects, carrion, rubbish, offal and sometimes berries.
Aggressive predator, particularly on eggs and chicks of Hring Gull and Black-legged Gull. Can kill adult birds. Cracks molluscs and goose eggs by dropping them on hard surfaces, Kills young birds in same way.
Scavenges on shore, also at rubbish dumps.
This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 100,000-1,000,000 km². It has a large global population estimated to be 630,000-720,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2002). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern [conservation status from birdlife.org]
Breeding period from April to May. Small colonies, near or intermingled with Herring Gull, and often solitary pairs among other species. Chick mortality increases with number of neighbouring territories and frequency of agonistic encounters. Prefers ridges, pinnacles and rock outcrops, but some nest on roofs. Normally uses open sandy, grassy or rocky substrate.
Bulky nest of dry grass, moss and seaweed, often next to rock or vegetation. Clutch size 3 eggs, incubation 27 days. Chick pale grey with large black spots. First breeding at 4 years.
Shows continuum from completely migratory north of Arctic Circle to merely dispersive in southern parts of breeding range. Essentially a North Atlantic and west European species at all seasons; main European winter range extends south to Bay of Biscay, while smaller numbers occur along coasts south to Morocco. Generally scarce inland, especially so in landlocked countries, but will occur locally in numbers in River valleys of maritime countries where these hold favoured feeding or roosting sites.
- spanwidth min.: 144 cm
- spanwidth max.: 166 cm
- size min.: 61 cm
- size max.: 74 cm
- incubation min.: 27 days
- incubation max.: 28 days
- fledging min.: 49 days
- fledging max.: 56 days
- broods 1
- eggs min.: 2
- eggs max.: 4
- Conservation Status