Mediterranean Gull

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Image:Mediterranean gull.JPG

Common Name: Mediterranean Gull
Scientific Name: Larus melanocephalus

Size: 14-15 inches (36-38 cm); 98-105 cm wingspan

Habitat: Europe; breeds almost entirely in Europe, mainly on the Black Sea coast of Ukraine, with a recent spread to the northern Caucasian Plains and Azerbaijan. It also breeds at scattered localities throughout Europe, including the Netherlands, southern France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, southern England, Belgium, Germany and Spain. It winters in the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, north-west Europe and north-west Africa.

This gull breeds in colonies in large reed beds or marshes, or on islands in lakes; where its population is small, it nests in Black-headed Gull colonies. It is highly gregarious in winter, both when feeding or in evening roosts. It is not a pelagic species, and is rarely seen at sea far from coasts.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: 360,000 - 960,000 mature individuals. Populations appear stable but this species has sustained heavy losses as a result of tourist disturbance at breeding colonies. The species may also be threatened by habitat loss resulting from tourism development, and by marine pollution (e.g. oil spills and chemical discharges).

Diet: Fish, worms, food scraps, insects, offal and carrion.

Breeding: Sexes are alike. First-winter birds resemble young Common Gulls but the black forewings and black lines through the secondaries are even more pronounced. This bird takes two years to reach maturity. At rest, non-breeding Mediterranean Gulls of all ages have a distinct dark smudge behind the eye, often with some black extending over the crown. Compared with Black-headed Gulls, they are chunkier-bodied, with a heavier, more angular head and a thicker bill.

The species breeds in colonies, usually of less than 1,000 pairs and occasionally in single pairs amidst colonies of other species. The nest is a shallow depression, situated on the ground in sparsely vegetated sites, thickets or reed beds near water. Nests are about 60 cm apart from neighboring pairs.

Cool Facts: Birders often abbreviate its name to "Med Gull". It closely resembles the Black-headed Gull but is slightly larger and does not have the black-band on the edge of the primary feathers or tail feathers.


Found in Songbird ReMix Seabirds Volume 2

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