Larus canus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Family: Charadriiformes > Laridae
The Common Gull is a medium-sized gull, with a dark grey back and upperwings and yellowish-green bill and legs.
This species breeds in the north and west of both Britain and Ireland with a preference for upland areas. The highest densities are found in the eastern half of Scotland, whereas in Ireland it is predominantly a coastal bird.
Our breeding population is swelled in winter by the autumn arrival of a large influx from the Continent. Individuals become very widely distributed across the country – though avoiding the uplands – and are most abundant down the eastern half of Britain at this time.
Select a topic for more facts and statistics about the Common Gull
Common Gull identification is sometimes difficult. The following article may help when identifying Common Gull.
Love them or hate them, you can't (or shouldn't) ignore gulls. Build up your gull ID skills by learning to recognise two ideal reference species from this versatile and varied family: Common Gull and Herring Gull.
Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Common Gull, provided by xeno-canto contributors.
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Status and Trends
Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.
This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.
The coastal-nesting population increased by 70% between the 1969–70 Census and Seabird 2000 (1998–2002). However, more than half of the population counted by Seabird 2000 were breeding inland. The inland breeding colonies have not been counted consistently and hence the overall trend for this species is highly uncertain. The counts made since Seabird 2000 suggest that substantial declines may have occurred at both coastal and inland colonies, although coverage is incomplete and the extent of the decline will not be known until the results of the recent Seabirds Count (2015–2021) are available (JNCC 2022 or link to website).
|UK winter population||-43% decrease (1995/96 to 2020/21)|
Each autumn and winter a large influx of continental Common Gulls supplements local breeders, resulting in a very wide winter distribution in Britain, with birds being absent only from upland areas; in Ireland they are mostly coastal. Breeding Common Gulls are found mostly in the north and west of both Scotland and Ireland. However, in Scotland, the highest densities are found on the eastern half of the country from Angus to the Moray Firth, Caithness and the Northern Isles as well as in many Highland straths and glens.
Occupied 10-km squares in UK
|No. occupied in breeding season||790|
|% occupied in breeding season||26|
|No. occupied in winter||2410|
|% occupied in winter||80|
European Distribution Map
The breeding change map highlights recent losses in many parts of Scotland and western Ireland.
Change in occupied 10-km squares in the UK
|% change in range in breeding season (1968–72 to 2008–11)||-6.3%|
|% change in range in winter (1981–84 to 2007–11)||+2%|
Common Gulls are recorded throughout the year.
Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.
An overview of year-round movements for the whole of Europe can be seen on the EuroBirdPortal viewer.
Lifecycle and body size information about Common Gull, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.
View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report
|Maximum Age from Ringing||27 years 10 months 22 days (set in 2013)|
|Typical Lifespan||10 years with breeding typically at 3 year|
|Juvenile Survival||0.25 (to age 3)|
|Wing Length||Adults||358.3±16.1 | Range 336–380mm, N=1555|
|Juveniles||345.7±13.9 | Range 331-363mm, N=42|
|Body Weight||Adults||407±52.28 | Range 328–497g, N=1394|
|Juveniles||361±58.2557 | Range 280–457g, N=39|
Feather measurements and photos on featherbase
|Field Codes||2-letter: CM | 5-letter code: COMGU | Euring: 5900|
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Interpretation and scientific publications about Common Gull from BTO scientists.
Causes of change
The causes of change in the Common Gull population are not known. Some studies have shown that American Mink Neovison vison can have a substantial negative effect at a local level and can cause colony abandonment (Craik 1997), but it is unclear whether predation from Mink and other predators may have driven wider population declines.
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