Larus argentatus - Herring gull:

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Summary Information
Living Organisms / Animalia / Craniata / Aves / Ciconiiformes / Laridae / Larus / Species

This section is currently predominantly used in Wildpro to link different data types and demonstrate inter-relationships. Although it identifies that taxonomic interrelationships of species (see "header") it does not currently contain detailed information on the bird species itself. As Wildpro is developed, we will gradually convert these pages into full Species pages.

The taxonomy of birds is still under review and the A World Checklist of Birds by Burt L. Monroe, Jr and Charles G. Sibley (B89) has been chosen as the primary reference. The taxonomic structure will be amended when new editions or complete references are identified by the scientific world as the recognized primary references for taxonomy.

Alternative Names
  • Larus argentatus argentatus - Herring gull (B89)
  • Larus argentatus heuglini - Heuglin's gull (B89)
  • Larus argentatus vegae - Vega gull (B89)
Distribution Northern Holarctic; winters to eastern Africa, southern Asia, southern Central America (B89)
  • London: In the London Area, common, particularly in winter; may be hundreds or even a few thousand at one site. Small numbers breed in London. (J322.65.w1)
  • Breeding - "Mainly coastal, using rocky coasts, buildings; also on lakes and rivers." (B163); on coastal islands, cliffs or at lakes. (B164); remote islands, moors, cliffs, sand dunes, buildings. (B17)
  • Winter: coasts, farmland, reservoirs, urban parks, refuse tips. (B17)
Further Information Appearance: 
  • Length: 54-60 cm (B164)
  • Wingspan: 123-148 cm (B164)
  • Bill: Yellow, with red/orange spot near tip (in juvenile, dark, may be pale near base). (B17, B164)
  • Eyes: Yellow; orbital ring yellow or orange (in juvenile, brown). (B164)
  • Feet and legs: Pink (all ages). (B164); brownish pink in juvenile. (B17)
  • Plumage: White with wings and back pale grey; wingtips black. (B17, B164)
  • Adult in summer: 
    • Head and neck white. Dorsal pale grey, with outer primaries mainly black, spotted with white (white spots on back visible when wings folded) and secondaries and inner primaries white tipped (white trailing edge in flight). Ventral white, tail white. (B164)
  • Adult in winter:
    • Head and neck white streaked with brown, otherwise as summer. (B164)
  • Juvenile: greyish brown, speckled/mottled appearance with dark tail; gradually develops paler colour and clear grey areas over second and third years. (B17, B164)


  • food - omnivorous
  • feeding behaviour - "on water uses a variety of feeding methods, including plunging, dipping to water surface from flight, swimming on surface and up-ending. sometimes walks across fields, shallow water and mud picking up prey, often feeds on refuse." (B163).


  • location and structure - on ground, cliffs or buildings
  • nest building - male more than female
  • breeding structure - monogamous


  • markings - patterned
  • number of eggs - 3 (2-4)
  • broods - one brood per season
  • incubation - male and female, sometimes female more than male; 28-30 (26-32) days


  • development - Semi-precocial; stays in nest; fed by parents
  • parental caring for young - by male and female
  • fledging - 35-40 days

(B163, B164)

Organisations (UK Contacts):

Electronic Library (further reading):

General Legislation:

  • This species is listed on Schedule 2 - Part 2 (Birds which may be killed or taken outside the close season, 1 February to 31 August except where indicated otherwise: Notes on the revised schedules state "Birds which may be killed or taken by authorised persons: This section has been replaced by General Licences with the same effect.") of the LUK2 - Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 of the United Kingdom. (W5.Oct01)

Individual techniques:

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