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Little Gull


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The smallest gull in the world, the Little Gull is common across Eurasia. A few pairs have been nesting in North America since the 1960s, and the species is now a rare, but regular, visitor to the East Coast and the Great Lakes.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
11.4–11.8 in
29–30 cm
24 in
61 cm
3.5–5.3 oz
100–150 g
Other Names
  • Mouette pygmée (French)
  • Gaviota mínima (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The first record of Little Gull in North America was in 1819, but the first nest was not discovered until 1962. After that time, numbers increased and sightings became more frequent. Whether the species had always been present in small numbers or if it newly colonized the continent in the 1960s is unknown.
  • In North America the Little Gull is most frequently observed during winter and on migration in groups of one to three, usually associated with larger flocks of Bonaparte's Gulls.
  • A Little Gull chick banded in Sweden was found dead on the road in Pennsylvania in its first summer.



Breeds in shallow, freshwater wetlands, such as marshes. Winters along coasts, large lakes, and rivers.



Flying insects, small fish, and aquatic invertebrates.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
1–4 eggs
Egg Description
Olive to buff, marked with numerous small spots and blotches of dark brown, often concentrated around the larger end.
Condition at Hatching
Semiprecocial with eyes open. Covered in down. Able to stand within a day, leave nest within a few days of hatching.
Nest Description

A floating platform of vegetation, placed in thick reeds above water.

Nest Placement




Flies along and plucks food from surface of water.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

There is little information on Little Gull population numbers and trends. Only a very small population lives in North America, which may have increased since the 1960s. The North American Waterbird Conservation Plan estimates a continental total of 100-200 breeding birds, and lists it as a Species of High Concern. Little Gull rates a 13 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and is not on the 2016 State of North America's Birds Watch List.


Range Map Help

Little Gull Range Map
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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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