Yellow-legged Gull

Larus michahellis (JF Naumann, 1840) YG YELGU 5926
Family: Charadriiformes > Laridae

Yellow-legged Gull, Peter M Wilson

Slightly larger and darker than a Herring Gull, the Yellow-legged Gull has a southerly distribution within Britain & Ireland.

The species was formerly recognized as species by the British Ornithologists' Union in 2005, even though birders had been recording its occurrence for some years. Increasing numbers of records, including a small number of breeding pairs along the south coast, reflect the expansion of breeding populations on the Continent and in North Africa. Our birds are at the very northern edge of their breeding range.

In autumn and winter birds can be seen more widely, often joining other gulls at feeding and loafing sites.

Select a topic for more facts and statistics about the Yellow-legged Gull

  • Breeding
  • Winter


Yellow-legged Gull identification is sometimes difficult.


Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Yellow-legged 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.




Yellow-legged Gulls are found throughout the year but there is a distinct peak in numbers between mid July and the end of August, when there is an influx of juvenile birds from Europe. The winter distribution map shows that most records came from central, eastern and southern Britain, where they use a range of inland and coastal sites, such as waterbodies, pig fields and landfill sites. In Ireland they were recorded mainly on the east and south coasts.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2



Yellow-legged Gulls can be recorded year-round and small numbers breed. They are particularly evident in late summer when there is a large influx of post-breeding adults and juveniles.

Weekly occurence of Yellow-legged Gull from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.

Foreign locations of birds ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland

Foreign locations of Yellow-legged Gull ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland
Encountered in: Winter (Nov-Feb); Spring (Mar-Apr); Summer (May-Jul); Autumn (Aug-Oct)


Lifecycle and body size information about Yellow-legged Gull, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.


Sample sizes are too small to report Productivity and Nesting statistics for this species.


View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report


Sample sizes are too small to report Biometrics for this species.

Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Welsh: Gwylan Goesfelen
Catalan: gavià de potes grogues
Czech: racek stredomorský
Danish: Middelhavs-sølvmåge
Dutch: Geelpootmeeuw
Estonian: lõuna-hõbekajakas
Finnish: etelänharmaalokki
French: Goéland leucophée
German: Mittelmeermöwe
Hungarian: sárgalábú sirály
Italian: Gabbiano reale
Latvian: Vidusjuras kaija
Lithuanian: geltonkojis kiras
Norwegian: Gulbeinmåke
Polish: mewa romanska
Portuguese: gaivota-de-patas-amarelas
Slovak: cajka žltonohá
Spanish: Gaviota patiamarilla
Swedish: medelhavstrut

Links to more information from

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