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Little Gull

Silhouette GullsGulls
Little GullHydrocoloeus minutus
  • ORDER: Charadriiformes
  • FAMILY: Laridae

Basic Description

The Little Gull is the world’s smallest gull—a dainty species with a small bill and distinctive dark underwings (on adults). Its graceful flight style recalls a tern, except for its rounded wingtips. It feeds like a tern too, flying low over the water and sometimes hovering to catch insects, small fish, and aquatic invertebrates. Primarily a species of Eurasia, the Little Gull has a small nesting population along Hudson Bay and the Great Lakes, and is a rarity elsewhere on the continent.

More ID Info
image of range map for Little Gull
Year-roundBreedingMigrationNonbreeding
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Finding a Little Gull in North America can be tricky! The best bet is to find a large flock of Bonaparte’s Gulls (which are very slightly larger) and scan it carefully, looking for the telltale charcoal underwings, gray (not white) outer primaries, and smudgy crown of an adult Little Gull, or the bold “M” upperwing pattern of a juvenile with a black-banded tail.

Other Names

  • Gaviota Enana (Spanish)
  • Mouette pygmée (French)
  • Cool Facts

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