Gulls

Key Features

There are six common species of gull found in the UK. These are the Greater Black-Backed, the Lesser Black-Backed, the Herring Gull, the Black-Headed Gull, Common Gull and the inland gull, the Kittiwake.

Gulls are typically large birds with white or light grey plumage, dark tipped wings, yellow beaks and webbed feet.

Biology

Gulls are most common in coastal areas and near other large bodies of water, with the exception of the Kittiwake.

In recent years however, all species have been moving further inland in search for food and to avoid predators. Gulls are becoming more of a problem due to their tendency to become aggressive towards humans during breeding season and when competing for food. They are omnivorous, opportunistic feeders and will eat almost anything; they have even been known to eat other birds.

Once a nesting site is established, more gulls will flock to the location and build colonies. They will then return to the site year after year. This is a particular nuisance in urban areas where inland gulls, usually Herring gulls, will nest on buildings. Breeding season falls between May and August in Northern Europe with two eggs being laid per season.

Gulls are particularly difficult to control due to the fact that they are a protected species. Government licenses will only allow the lethal control of urban gulls in extreme circumstances, but there must a be a proven and significant risk to public health and safety. Some types of gull are also rarer and have greater protection than others, but it’s difficult to identify the species only based on the nests and chicks.

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