Family Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Least Concern

Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)


French: Mouette rieuse German: Lachmöwe Spanish: Gaviota reidora
Other common names: Common Black-headed Gull

Larus ridibundus


, 1766,



Some recent authors place this species and other “masked gulls” in genus Chroicocephalus (see L. philadelphia). Sometimes treated as conspecific with L. brunnicephalus, the Pamir population showing characteristics intermediate between the two species. Hybridizes occasionally with L. melanocephalus and reportedly with L. canus#R; has hybridized with L. genei#R. NE Siberian population sometimes separated as a geographical race, sibiricus, slightly larger than those in rest of range, but differences minimal. Monotypic.


S Greenland and Iceland through most of Europe and C Asia to Kamchatka, extreme SE Russia (Ussuriland) and NE China (Heilongjiang); marginal in E North America (extreme SE Canada and adjacent NE USA). Winters S to W & E Africa, India, and SE Asia.

Descriptive notes

37–44 cm; 195–325 g; wingspan 91–110 cm. Two-year gull. The breeding adult has the frontal hood dark chocolate brown to dusky blackish, with blackish border... read more


Notoriously noisy at breeding colonies, producing screaming, downslurred but melodious "krreeaarh"... read more


Temperate zone to edge of boreal forests of Palearctic; mainly at low altitudes, and generally near... read more

Food and feeding

The reported diet is extremely broad and opportunistic but shows a tendency towards a greater reliance on natural foods during the breeding... read more


Returns to colonies from late February to late March; lays in late April and May. Most colonies 11–100 pairs, a few exceeding 10,000... read more


Northern populations are migratory, while lower latitude birds tend to be resident or dispersive.... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). The global population is estimated at around 4.8–8.9 million individuals. They mainly comprise 3.7–4. million... read more

Recommended citation

Burger, J., Gochfeld, M., Kirwan, G.M., Christie, D.A. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 17 February 2020).