Common Gull (Larus canus)



The Common Gull is a medium-sized white-headed gull. It belogns to the Three-age group, meaning it moults into adult plumage after the third winter. This gull is distributed across the entire north Eurasian zone and is much more common than would think.


The number of breeding pairs in central Europe is estimated at c. 28,000-35,000 breeding pairs, whereas the European breeding pairs are estimated at c. 590,000-1,500,000 pairs making it a common gull.


We can see and observe the Common Gull actually everywhere in central Europe and alongside shorelines. At first sight, this gull can be confused with the much larger Herring Gull. So be careful and look out for the shape of the bill which must be slender and pointed, without red spot.



common gull
Common Gull


Description - Characteristics: Common Gull


Breeding – Clutch – Measurements – Habitat – Diet - Threats



Order: Charadriiformes

Family: Laridae

Genus: Larus

Species: Black-headed Gull


Scientific Name: Larus canus


Names and Synonyms of the Common Gull


Name in German: Sturmmöwe

Name in Czech: Racek bouřní

Name in Slovak: Čajka sivá

Name in Hungarian: Viharsirály

Name in Croat: Burni Galeb

Name in French: Goéland cendré

Name in Spanish: Gaviota Cana

Name in Portuguese: Gaivota-parda

Name in Dutch: Stormmeeuw

Name in Italian: Gavina eurasiatica

Name in Iceland: Stormmáfur

Name in Faroer: Gneggjus, skatumási, Skatumási/válkur

Name in Finnish: Kalalokki

Name in Danish: Stormmåge

Name in Swedish: Fiskmås

Name in Polish: Mewa pospolita

Name in Russian: Сизая чайка

Name in Hebrew: שחף אפרורי

Name in Arabic: النورس الشائع, النورس الشائع جنة, النورس العادي

Name in Greek: Θυελλόγλαρος

Name in Turkey: Dalgıç, Küçük gümüş martı, küçük gümüş marty

Name in Kazahk: Кєк шағала

Name in Mongol: Үүлэн цахлай

Name in Japanese: kamome

Name in Korean: 갈매기


Characteristics of the Common Gull


Distribution: Distributed across the entire north Eurasian region. In central Europe mainly distributed on the shores of the North Sea and Baltics


Movements: Migratory, partly sedentary in Europe.


Habitat: Breeds on dry soil, mainly on islands, headlands, swamps, often near cultivations; mainly concentrated alongside shorelines in west and central Europe.


Behaviour: Mainly diurnal, feeding partly during twilight; partly gregarious.



Field Characteristics: Three-age groups. Larger than Black-headed Gull. It looks similar to the much larger Herring Gull, though the colour of the plumage is much paler. In case of size comparison being impossible, just look at the bill. The bill is slender and pointed, in adult plumage without red spot or ring towards the tip of the bill. Dark bead eyes.


Bill: yellow.

Tarsus: yellow-green.


Iris: dark.


common gull
Common Gull




Size: 40-46 cm


♂: 325-552 g

♀: 290-480 g

Wingspan: 110-130 cm


♂: 34.2-38.0 cm

♀: 32.1-35.7 cm


Voice: Higher-pitched calls than Herring Gull.




Maturity: between 2-4 year.

Mating Season: monogamous breeding pair, high loyalty to breeding area and mainly to former partner.


Clutches per breeding season1 clutch

Breeding: not before last decade in April .


Nest: Mainly ground nest, also slightly elevated, also in trees.


common gull
Common Gull
eggs common gull laempel common license
Clutch of Common Gull - source: by Lämpel - own works, CC BY-SA 3.0,


Clutch: (1-2) 3 (rarely -4) eggs

Eggs: creme-coloured long-oval egg with speckles and stains.

Egg Measurements:

Length: 48.2-67.4 mm

Width: 34.7-49.0 mm

Ø: 57.2x41.0 mm (n=1374)

Egg weight: 37.0-64.0 g; Ø 51.9 (n=814)

shell weight: 2.13-4.06 g; Ø 3.12 g (n=200)


Recurrent Clutch: possibly when clutch is lost during early days; up to two recurrent clutches are possible.


Laying interval: 47 hours on average for two eggs, 3 egg 77-81 hours.


Begin of incubating: clutch of 2 – 24 hours after laying second egg, clutch of 3 – between laying second and third egg; larger clutches 1-2 days after laying third egg.


Hatching: usually 3 days between first crack in shell until chicken has fully hatched, also 4-6 days are possible; second egg hatches usually 4 hours after first, third egg 17 hours after second egg.


Incubation: 23-28 days; both parents share the task of incubating.


Fledging: 4 days after hedging juveniles leave the vicinity of the nest but are fed at the nest. Fledging after 28-33 days.


Dependency: Fully independent only a few days after fledging.


common gull
Common Gull




Food: Earth worms, insects, fish, small rodents, vegetarian, fish waste.


Longevity: The oldest known ringed bird of a Common Gull reached an age of >31 years.


Mortality: c. 54 % during first year, c. 25% in second year, from third year c. 26%.


Threats: Direct persecution, collection of eggs, hunting, poisoning. Insufficient food during breeding season. Loss of breeding areas.






Bauer, Hans-Günther, Bezzel, Einhard et. al. (HG), Kompendium der Vögel Mitteleuropas, Band 1+2, Sonderausgabe 2012, Aula Verlag, Wiebelsheim

Bauer, Hans-Günther, Bezzel, Einhard et. al. (HG), Kompendium der Vögel Mitteleuropas, Band 3, Literatur und Anhang, Aula Verlag Wiebelsheim, 2. vollständig überarbeitete Auflage 1993

Bezzel, Einhard, Kompendium der Vögel Mitteleuropas, Non-Passeriformes, Band 1, AULA-Verlag Wiesbaden, 1985

Bruun/Singer/König/Der Kosmos Vogelführer, Franck'sche Verlagshandlung Stuttgart, 5. Auflage 1982

Glutz von Blotzheim, Urs et. al (HG), Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas, Band 8/1, Charadriiformes (3. Teil), Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft Wiesbaden, 1982

Svenson, Lars et. al, Der Kosmos Vogelführer, Franck-Kosmos Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, Stuttgart, 2. Auflage 2011



Image Credits


Clutch of Common Gull - Source: by Lämpel - own works, CC BY-SA 3.0,