Saturday, January 8, 2011

Little Gull

Summer Plumage
I woke up this morning wanting to write about Seagulls. And then I quickly realized that there are many, many species and genera of gulls, and that I'd need to narrow it down to just one. So let's take a look at the smallest of all gulls, the aptly named Little Gull.

Little Gulls (Hydrocoloeus or Larus minutus) can be found in Europe and parts of Asia, and has even been seen over in Canada, the United States, and down into North Africa. They are migratory, and during the breeding season can be found in mixed species flocks that can number over 2,000 birds. Even outside of the breeding season they remain gregarious, though the groups are far smaller and number up to two dozen birds.

Winter Plumage
Little Gulls measure about 10in (27cm) long, and sport a wingspan of up to 24in (61cm). Their plumage changes depending on the season; they sport a black hood and more vibrant tones on the bill and legs during summer, and in the winter the head becomes mostly white (save for a small black cap) and the bill and legs become more dull.

Insects make up the bulk of the Little Gulls' diet, and they are able to catch them by skimming over the water. They also consume small fish and marine invertebrates.

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