This gull is 38-44 cm (15-17? in) long with a 94-105 cm (37-41 in) wingspan. In flight, the white leading edge to the wing is a good field mark. The summer adult has a chocolate-brown head (not black, although does look black from a distance), pale grey body, black tips to the primary wing feathers, and red bill and legs. The hood is lost in winter, leaving just 2 dark spots. 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.
Habitat and Distribution
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. Some birds will also spend the winter in northeastern North America.
The Black-headed Gull is a bold and opportunistic feeder and will eat insects, fish, seeds, worms, scraps and carrion in towns, or take invertebrates in ploughed fields with equal relish.
It breeds in colonies in large reedbeds or marshes, or on islands in lakes, nesting on the ground.
Calls and Songs
This is a noisy species, especially in colonies, with a familiar `kree-ar` call. Its scientific name means `laughing gull`.