Larus canus - Mew 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
Distribution Northern Holarctic; winters to northern Africa, eastern Asia, north-western Mexico, north-eastern United States (B89)
  • London: In the London Area, common as both a winter visitor and a passage migrant. More than 1,000 individuals may be found at a time e.g. on Rainham Marsh in winter. (J322.65.w1)
Habitat Breeding - "Inland, moorland lakes and rivers, and coastal on rocky islands, or sand dunes." (B163); along coasts, rivers or lakes, in marshes, on islands. (B164)
Further Information Appearance: Smaller and much "neater" than Larus argentatus - Herring gull, with a smaller rounder head, and lacking the red spot on the smaller bill.
  • Length: 40-46 cm (B164)
  • Wingspan: 99-108 cm (B164)
  • Bill: relatively small, greenish yellow, in winter duller and with narrow black band. (B164)
  • Eyes: dark. (B164)
  • Feet and legs: yellow-green, pinker in juveniles/immatures. (B164)
  • Plumage: Mainly white with grey wings. (B17, B164)
  • Adult in summer: 
    • Head and neck white. Dorsal grey, with white band (tips of secondaries and inner primaries, so white trailing edge on spread wing), outer primaries black with white tips. Ventral white, wings underside white except black tips. (B17, B164)
  • Adult in winter:
    • Head and neck white streaked with grey; dorsal , ventral . (B164)
  • Immatures: upperparts pale brown, scaly appearance, underparts whitish, crown and nape streaked grey-brown. (B17, B164)
  • food - mainly insects and aquatic inverts; sometimes fish
  • feeding behaviour - "on water uses a variety of feeding methods, including plunging, dipping to water surface from flight, swimming on surface and up-ending". (B163).


  • location and structure - ground nesting, using elevations such as boulders (sometimes low trees or tops of buildings); scrape (sometimes well built nest of vegetation or seaweed). 
  • nest building - male and female
  • breeding structure - monogamous; bond for life (B163). May nest singly or colonially. (B164)


  • markings - Patterned
  • number of eggs - 3 (2-5)
  • broods - 1 brood
  • incubation - by male and female alternating approximately every 3 days; 22-28 days


  • development - semi precocial, stays in nest, fed by parents
  • parental caring for young - by male and female
  • fledging - 35? days

(B163, B164)

Organisations (UK Contacts):

Electronic Library (further reading):

General Legislation:

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Individual techniques:

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