|Conservation status||Future of North American nesting population still uncertain, but species is abundant across Europe and Asia.|
|Family||Gulls and Terns|
|Habitat||Mostly coastal waters. In North America mostly along coast, on protected bays, shallow estuaries; generally rare on fresh waters well inland. In Eurasia found commonly on fresh marshes, lakes, ponds in interior, especially during summer.|
Versatile in feeding. Searches for food while walking or swimming, or swoops down to take items from surface while flying; sometimes catches insects in high flight. Black-headed Gulls also steal food from each other and from other birds.
2-3, sometimes 1-4. Variable, gray-green to tan or yellowish, blotched with brown or olive. Incubation is by both sexes, 23-26 days. Young: Both parents feed young. Young may leave nest after about 10 days but remain in general area; capable of flight at about 5 weeks, and independent soon thereafter.
Both parents feed young. Young may leave nest after about 10 days but remain in general area; capable of flight at about 5 weeks, and independent soon thereafter.
Omnivorous. Eats mostly animal material, including wide variety of insects, also earthworms, marine worms, mollusks, crustaceans, small fish, carrion. During summer may eat many seeds and small fruits.
Usually nests in colonies, sometimes in isolated pairs. Nest site is usually on ground among vegetation, sometimes on bare soil or above ground. Nest (built by both sexes) usually a scrape lined with bits of plant material, sometimes a mound with depression at top.
Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Of the hundreds that winter in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia (and the dozens that winter elsewhere in the northeast), most probably come from Iceland: the appearance of the species in eastern North America followed a sudden growth of the Icelandic nesting population in the 1930s. Strays from Asia also show up regularly in Alaska.
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsA harsh kwup; various squealing notes.
Learn more about this sound collection.