Monday, 8 December 2014

Day 37 - Is it a black headed gull, or isn't it....

Hi everybody Day 37 and today it's the turn of black headed gulls. They don't actually have a black head, more of a chocolatey brown and this disappears altogether for much of the year when it's in "eclipse".

Here are some facts about these medium sized gulls.

  • They have silver grey upper parts and white underparts all year round and a dark red bill, and legs. The wings have black tips and a white edge along the forewing, which is what separates it from a common gull.
    Black Headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
    in eclipse
  • In the summer the adult has a dark chocolate brown head. But in the winter it only has a small black smudge to the rear of its eye (in eclipse). Juveniles have a ginger brown mantle and wing feathers but over two years become more like the adults
  • It is not a sea-gull as it found almost everywhere 
  • They are sociable but squabble with each other and can be quite noisy!
  • They are found most often in small flocks
  • A group of gulls can be called a gullery, a scavenging, flotilla or a squabble!
  • They are Amber status because there are 2.2 million residents over winter but only 140,000 breeding pairs in the UK, so in the rest of Europe they're not a bird of concern but in the UK they are.
  • Length 36cm
  • Wingspan 105cm
  • Weight 330g (male) and 250g (female)
  • It's the most common inland gull even though it's Amber status
    Black headed gulls
    formation dancing team
  • They like to eat animal material such as insects, worms, small fish and carrion (roadkill) but also eat plant matter. They like to forage in newly ploughed fields - and even rubbish dumps! Not only can they catch flying insects whilst in the air, they can also dive for fish! 
  • They can come into gardens and take advantage of food left on the bird table when their food sources become scarce in the coldest winter weather
  • They nest in fields, marshes, cliffs,  estuaries etc.
  • They have one clutch of eggs per year usually with 2-3 eggs 
  • Here in the photo is a small group of black headed gulls showing us their sychronised dancing formation (at Wells next the Sea in Norfolk)
Well if you want to find out more about these birds you could check out these pages...

Hope you enjoyed this post.


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