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Black-headed Gull


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Black-headed Gull Photo

A common gull of the Old World, Black-headed Gull is a rare, but regular visitor to eastern North America.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
13.4–14.6 in
34–37 cm
39.4–43.3 in
100–110 cm
6.7–14.1 oz
190–400 g
Other Names
  • Common Black-headed Gull
  • Mouette rieuse (French)

Cool Facts

  • The Black-headed Gull is a rare visitor to North America, turning up in small numbers along the northern Atlantic Coast. Records began to increase in the mid-1900s, and the first nesting attempt was discovered in Newfoundland in 1977.
  • In Europe the Black-headed Gull is found scavenging in flocks in parks, but it is rarely found in this situation in North America. Perhaps this difference is because it usually is found associating with large flocks of Bonaparte's Gulls, which do not eat refuse or scavenge food from people.
  • The Black-headed Gull is one of the few hooded gulls that does not actually have a black head during breeding. Its hood is dark chocolate brown.



Breeds along lakes, rivers, bogs, moors, grasslands, swamps, and coastal marshes. In winter, found primarily along seacoasts, estuaries, and bays.



Insects, worms, fish, mice, garbage, some seeds and berries.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
1–4 eggs
Egg Description
Dull green to gray, blotched with brown.
Condition at Hatching
Semiprecocial with eyes open. Covered in down. Able to stand within a day, but usually remain quiet in nest for a week.
Nest Description

Shallow scrape lined with pieces of vegetation; in wet sites, built up into substantial mound. Placed on ground in low vegetation.

Nest Placement



Ground Forager

Forages while walking or swimming. Flies along and plucks food from surface of water, or plunges into water to pick food from water. Follows plows. Catches flying insects on the wing.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

Black-headed Gull are abundant, and expanding their range in Europe. The North American Waterbird Conservation Plan estimates a population of 40 breeders, and 400 non-breeders in North America, and lists them as a Species of Moderate Concern. They rate a 15 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and are not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List.


Range Map Help

Black-headed Gull Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings


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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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