This is the smallest gull species, with a length of 25-30 cm (9.8-11.8 in), a wingspan of 61-78 cm (24-31 in) and a weight of 68-162 g. It is pale grey in breeding plumage with a black hood, dark underwings and often a pinkish flush on the breast. In winter, the head goes white apart from a darker cap and eye-spot. The bill is thin and black and the legs dark red. The flight on rounded wings is somewhat tern-like. Young birds have black markings on the head and upperparts, and `W` pattern across the wings.

Habitat and Distribution

It breeds in northern Europe and Asia. It also has small colonies in parts of southern Canada. It is migratory, wintering on coasts in western Europe, the Mediterranean and (in small numbers) the northeast USA. In recent years non-breeding birds have summered in western Europe in increasing numbers. Their habitat is fresh water marshes.


These gulls pick food off the water surface, and will also catch insects in the air like a Black Tern.


The Little gulls make a lined nest on the ground amongst vegetation. They take three years to reach maturity. Normally, 2-6 eggs are laid.