Black Headed Gull garden bird

Black Headed Gull

Size: 35-38CM, 13-14.5INC

The Black-Headed-Gull is an easily recognised small gull and is common throughout Europe. Although still thought of by some as just a seaside nester, Black-Headed Gulls breed in almost any wet land habitat from inland sites such as gravel pits to coastal marshes. In winter, Black-Headed Gulls can be encountered anywhere, even stealing food from bird tables!

Black-Headed Gulls are slim-looking birds with a domed head, slender bill and clearly pointed wings. There are distinct summer and winter plumages from the adults and immature. Black-Headed Gull flies a buoyant jaunty action with fast wing beats. They are also adept at gliding , soaring and hawking(at great height) for insects.

A first-summer Black-Headed Gull resembles a 'mix' of adult and immature feather cover, moulting out of its first-winter cover between February and April. The head sows a brownish hood, flecked with varying amounts of white. The wings show some traces of its juvenile plumage and the tail retains a dark terminal band. The bill has a dark tip and orange base, while the legs are also orange.

Adult summer Black-Headed Gulls are very easy to identify, and the distinctive plumage is generally attained in February or March. The head shows a chocolate brown hood, with a partial thin white eye ring. The hind neck is white. The mantle and most of the wings are silvery-grey, looking very pale in some lights. The flight feathers are white with bold black tips. Their backend and slightly rounded tails are white, as are the entire under parts. The bill, legs and feet are rather dark reddish, while the eye is black.

  • When a firsty-winnter 'BlackHead' is seen in flight, the brown on the wing is seen easily, contrasting with the grey mantle and inner wing. Note the broad blackish trailing edge on the upper wing. The black tail band is also clear.
  • Both plumages share a very distinctive upper and under wing patter. On the upper wing the strong white leading edge, contrasting with the black trailing edge to the outer wing feathers-the primary feathers. The under wing is silvery-grey except for a large dusky panel towards the end of the wing, while the white leading edge and black trailing edges are still obvious especially on adults.
  • First-winter Black-Headed Gulls resemble adult birds, except for more mottling on the head, and the wings show a large amount of brown on the coverts, secondary's and tertials. The tail shows a broad black terminal band. The bill shows a muddy-orange base and a black tip, and the legs are also muddy-orange in colour. The eye is black.
  • As adult Black-Headed Gulls identical plumage to the summer bird except for the head pattern. In winter plumage, Black-Headed Gulls show a white head, with a dark spot behind the eye which appears very smudgy and two dark bands that run up and across the crown. The bill colour becomes darker and duller on the base and the tip can look blackish. The leg colour becomes dull orangey-red.