Family Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Least Concern

Mediterranean Gull (Larus melanocephalus)


French: Mouette mélanocéphale German: Schwarzkopfmöwe Spanish: Gaviota cabecinegra

Larus melanocephalus


, 1820,

coasts of the Adriatic Sea


Some recent authors place this species and other “black-headed gulls” in genus Ichthyaetus (see L. ichthyaetus). Formerly, present species often considered to include L. relictus. Has hybridized with L. ridibundus and probably with L. canus. Monotypic.


Mainly on Black Sea coasts of Ukraine, with recent spread to N Caucasian Plains and Azerbaijan (Baku Archipelago); also at scattered localities throughout Europe, with large numbers in Netherlands, S France (Camargue), Italy, Greece and Turkey, also limited breeding in S England (increasing), Belgium, NE Germany, E Spain and C Europe. Winters in Mediterranean, Black Sea, NW Europe and NW Africa.

Descriptive notes

36–38 cm; 215–350 g; wingspan 98–105 cm. Intermediate in size between the Common Gull Larus canus and the Black-headed Gull L. ridibundus... read more


Not very vocal. The commonest call is a distinctive, rising and falling, mellow, whining "yee-ah"... read more


Coasts, estuaries, harbours, marshes, inland lakes, fields and grasslands. Breeds on Mediterranean... read more

Food and feeding

In breeding season, mainly terrestrial and aquatic insects; also gastropods (Greece), and small numbers of fish, rodents and worms. Flocks... read more


Bird returns to their colonies in early April, most laying during the first half of May. Highly synchronous, with egg-laying spanning only... read more


Largely migratory. The principal wintering areas are in the Mediterranean, mainly in Spain.... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). The global population is estimated at 300,000–370,000 pairs, of which up to 300,000 pairs breed on the Ukrainian Black Sea... read more

Recommended citation

Burger, J., Gochfeld, M. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). Mediterranean Gull (Larus melanocephalus). 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 24 February 2020).