(Pallas, 1776, rivers of Siberia)
The Little Gull (Hydrocoloeus minutus or Larus minutus), is a small gull which breeds in northern Europe and Asia. It also has small colonies in parts of southern Canada. It is migratory, wintering on coasts in western Europe, the Mediterranean and (in small numbers) the northeast USA; in recent years non-breeding birds have summered in western Europe in increasing numbers. As is the case with many gulls, it has traditionally been placed in the genus Larus. It is the only member of the genus Hydrocoloeus, although it has been suggested that Ross's Gull also should be included in this genus.
This species breeds colonially on freshwater marshes, making a lined nest on the ground amongst vegetation. Normally, 2-6 eggs are laid.
This is the smallest gull species, with a length of 25–30 cm (9.8–12 in), a wingspan of 61–78 cm (24–31 in) and a weight of 68–162 g (2.4–5.7 oz). It is pale grey in breeding plumage with a black hood, dark underwings and often a pinkish flush on the breast. In winter, the head goes white apart from a darker cap and eye-spot. The bill is thin and black and the legs dark red. The flight on rounded wings is somewhat tern-like.
Young birds have black markings on the head and upperparts, and "W" pattern across the wings. They take three years to reach maturity.
These gulls pick food off the water surface, and will also catch insects in the air like a Black Tern.
- BirdLife International (2004). Larus minutus. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 11 May 2006.
- CRC Handbook of Avian Body Masses by John B. Dunning Jr. (Editor). CRC Press (1992), ISBN 978-0-8493-4258-5.
- Little Gull, Arkive.
- Little Gull, All About Birds.
- Malling Olsen, Klaus and Hans Larsson, Gulls of Europe, Asia and North America ISBN 0-7136-7087-8
- BOU Records Committee, British Ornithologists' Union Records Committee: 36th Report (November 2007), Ibis (2008), 150, 218-220.
- Pons J.M., Hassanin, A., and Crochet P.A.(2005). Phylogenetic relationships within the Laridae (Charadriiformes: Aves) inferred from mitochondrial markers. Molecular phylogenetics and evolution 37(3):686-699
- Media related to Little Gull at Wikimedia Commons
- Data related to Larus minutus at Wikispecies
- Larus minutus in the Flickr: Field Guide Birds of the World