Black-headed Gull

Chroicocephalus ridibundus




Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Gray green or yellow with brown and olive marks.

Number of Eggs:

2 - 4

Incubation Days:

21 - 27

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

On ground.

Nest Material:

Dead plants.





Black-headed Gull: Small, white gull with gray-black, partial hood, white crescents above and below rear part of eye, and white-gray back and upper wings. Fairly long wings with black tips and black bases on primaries. Outer primaries are white. Pointed red bill. Short square tail. Medium red legs and feet. Feeds on a variety of items including small fish, insects, worms, seeds, garbage, and carrion. Forages by picking food off of the ground, in flight, and from the surface of the water.

Range and Habitat

Black-headed Gull: Breeds from southern Greenland through most of Europe and central Asia to Kamchatka and northeast China. In North America found along Atlantic coast from Labrador, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia to New York. Casual to Virginia. Nests in coastal and freshwater marshes, and lakes; spends winters on estuaries, wetlands, reservoirs, ploughed fields, pastures, and landfills.

Breeding and Nesting

Black-headed Gull: Two to six green-blue eggs with brown-black blotches are laid in a scrape or small pile of dead leaves on the ground or on top of a roof. Incubation is carried out by both sexes for 21 to 27 days. This species nests in colonies, often on a small island or in marshy areas.

Foraging and Feeding

Black-headed Gull: Feeds on a wide variety of items including small fish, insects, worms, seeds, garbage, and carrion. Forages by picking food off of beaches and the ground. Also catches insects in flight, and swoops down to pick small fish and scraps of food from the surface of the water.


Black-headed Gull: Produces a variety of calls, including harsh "kree-aaa" and "kek."

Similar Species

Black-headed Gull: Bonaparte's Gull has dark bill and is pale under primaries. Little Gull is smaller with full black hood. 

Outer primariesX
The outer primaries are the primary feathers on the wing farthest from the body. They often appear to be the longest feathers on the wing.
The primaries are the flight feathers specialized for flight. They are attached to the "hand" equivalent part of the wing.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X