Family Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Least Concern

Little Gull (Hydrocoloeus minutus)


French: Mouette pygmée German: Zwergmöwe Spanish: Gaviota enana

Larus minutus


, 1776,

rivers of Siberia


Previously placed in genus Larus. Apparently most similar to Rhodostethia rosea and Xema sabini, although both of those highly divergent from the hooded gulls. Despite disjunct nature of breeding distribution, geographical variation insufficient to warrant subspecific division. Monotypic.


N Scandinavia, Baltic countries and W Russia to W Siberia (between R Ural and R Ob); E Siberia (E from Lena Basin and L Baikal); also sporadically in W & C Europe, and casually in North America. Winters mostly S and W of breeding range in Mediterranean, Black Sea and Caspian Sea, as well as along W Europe and E USA coastlines.

Descriptive notes

25–30 cm; 88–162 g; wingspan 62–78 cm. Three-year gull. The smallest gull; similar in size to Chlidonias terns with similar dipping... read more


Gives a short, hard, nasal “kek”, sometimes repeatedly. A rhythmic “kay-ke-kay-ke-kay-ke” is given... read more


Coastal areas, lagoons, sandy beaches, mouths of streams and rivers. Breeds mainly inland, from... read more

Food and feeding

Varied; mostly invertebrates, e.g. dragonflies, beetles and midges. Mainly insectivorous when breeding and on migration; presumably eats... read more


Lays from late Jun. Older adults return to colony already paired. Readily colonizes new wetlands and abandons old sites. Breeds in small... read more


Post-breeding usually gathers in small flocks, occasionally in large groups of thousands, often... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Global population estimated at c. 97,000–270,000 individuals. Main breeding range in C Asia. European population estimated at... read more

Recommended citation

Burger, J., Gochfeld, M. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). Little Gull (Hydrocoloeus minutus). 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 23 January 2020).