Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)



The Herring Gull is one of the most common gulls in Europe. Upon first look it might be confused with the similar-looking but smaller Common Gull. The main identification features are a heavy yellow bill with red spot, flesh-pink long legs, mostly white, light grey back and wings, and white and black wing tips.


We find the Herring Gull at nearly every European coastal strip, inlands and anlongside rivers, streams and on lakes. They are gregarious birds and in coastal towns and villages openly beg people for something to eat. In some areas they have become even aggressive and try to steal food from people. So, be aware of the Herring Gull when on the seaside. 



herring gull
Herring Gull with chicken


Description - Characteristics: Herring Gull


Breeding – Clutch – Measurements – Habitat – Diet - Threats



Order: Charadriiformes

Family: Laridae

Genus: Larus

Species: Herring Gull


Scientific Name: Larus argentatus


Names and Synonyms of the Herring Gull


Name in German: Silbermöwe

Name in Czech: Racek stříbřitý

Name in Slovak: Čajka striebristá

Name in Hungarian: Ezüstsirály

Name in Croat: Srebrnasti galeb

Name in French: Goéland argenté

Name in Spanish: Gaviota argéntea

Name in Portuguese: Gaivota-argêntea

Name in Dutch: Zilvermeeuw

Name in Italian: Gabbiano reale nordico

Name in Iceland: Silfurmáfur

Name in Faroer: Fiskimási, Fiskimási

Name in Finnish: Harmaalokki

Name in Danish: Sølvmåge

Name in Swedish: Gråtrut

Name in Polish: Mewa srebrzysta

Name in Russian: Серебристая чайка


Characteristics of the Herring Gull


Distribution: Usually on the shores of Europe, Northern Africa and throughout the Mediterranean; Great Britain, Shetlands, Orkneys, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Baltics, Black Sea area, Turkey and Middle East.


Movements: Migratory, partly sedentary in Europe.


Wintering: Southern parts of North Sea (German Bight), throughout Wadden Sea (Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark), France, Spain, Portugal, western Mediterranean, Northern Africa, to Middle East, inlands of west, central and southeast Europe .


Habitat: Shores of all kind, also inlands, lakes and alongside rivers.


Behaviour: partly gregarious, diurnal.





Size: 54-60 cm

Weight: c. 1000 g

Wingspan: 123-148 cm


Voice: Noisy. Shrill shreaks..




Maturity: Usually between 3rd to 7th year, mainly from 5th year.

Mating Season: probably before begin of breeding season.


Clutches per breeding season1 clutch

Breeding: between May to mid of July.


Nest: massive pile of green plants and leaves, breeds solitary and colonial.


herring gull
Herring Gull with chicken


Clutch: 2-3 eggs

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


Recurrent Clutch: possibly when clutch is lost in the early days, two additional clutches possible.


Laying interval: 2-3 days.


Begin of incubating: after first egg.


Incubation: 25-33 days, both parents share the task of incubating.


Fledging: Chicken leave the nest early, wandering around; though stay close to the nest. Fledging after 35-59 days.


Dependency: After Fledging the juveniles will be fed by parents for another 19-47 days.




Food: Wide range of food, crustaceans and mollusks, shellfish, carrion, fish, echinoderms, insects, also rubbish. In urban areas Herring Gulls pester people for food. It can happen that the birds manage to steal fish and chips bought from a chippy.


Longevity: usually 20 to 30 years of age.


Mortality: unknown.


Threats: Avian flu, parasites, sea eagles and other large birds of prey, skuas, scavengers, dogs and foxes.






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


Egg of Herring Gull - Source: Von Klaus Rassinger und Gerhard Cammerer, Museum Wiesbaden - Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37703474