MarLIN

information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Herring gull (Larus argentatus)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.

Summary

Description

The herring gull is the most common gull on British coasts. Larus argentatus is a large gull reaching lengths of 60 cm and with a wing span up to 1.48 m. The adult plumage is white with a broad grey mantle along the top of the wings. The wing tips are black with small white mirrors (white patches) and the head may be streaked with brown in Autumn. The bill is yellow with a red spot on the lower tip (gonys). The legs are pink. Juveniles are a mottled brown with a dark bill. Grey upperparts, white head and tail develop from second winter onwards and the yellow bill also develops gradually.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Widespread around all British coasts during the breeding season and inland all year round.

Global distribution

-

Habitat

The herring gull prefers to nest on rocky cliffs, islets and offshore islands, although other habitats including sand dunes, shingle banks and urban areas are, increasingly, being used.

Depth range

-

Identifying features

  • Large gull, up to 60 cm length and 1.48 m wingspan.
  • Pale grey upperparts, white head and tail (adults).
  • Pink legs.
  • Yellow bill with red spot on gonys (adults).

Additional information

The herring gull is an opportunist feeder, both predator and scavenger. The diet is varied, including fish, crustaceans, molluscs, birds, eggs and insects. This gull may be observed trampling on wet sand or grass to bring up worms, or dropping molluscs from a height to break them open. Please note that distribution maps are compiled using records for both breeding and wintering populations. For more specific distribution and abundance records please refer to maps compiled by The British Trust for Ornithology, available at http://www.bto.org/birdatlas/previous/index.htm

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Further information sources

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Bibliography

  1. Cady, M. & Hume, R. (eds), 1993. The Complete Book of British Birds. Basingstoke: The Automobile Association and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

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  3. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  4. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  5. Mavor, R.A., Parsons, M., Heubeck, M. & Schmitt, S. 2006. Seabird numbers and breeding success in Britain and Ireland, 2005. Peterborough: Joint Nature Conservation Committee. (UK Nature Conservation, No. 30)

  6. Mullarney, K., Svensson, L., Zetterstrom, D. & Grant, P.J., 1999. Collins Bird Guide. London: HarperCollins Publishers

  7. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. 2008. Birds and Wildlife: Guide to UK Birds. http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/index.asp, 2008-09-22

  8. Waller, G. (ed), 1996. Sealife. A Complete Guide to the Marine Environment. Sussex: Pica Press

  9. Witherby, H.F., Jourdain, F.C.R, Ticehurst, N.F. & Tucker, B.W., 1947. The handbook of British birds. H., F., & G. Witherby Ltd.

Datasets

  1. Argyll Bird Club, 2017. Bird records for Argyll for the years 2002 and 2003. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/uilybi accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-25.

  2. BIS for Powys & Brecon Beacons National Park, 2017. Brecknock county birds records. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/2rd8nh accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-25.

  3. BIS for Powys & Brecon Beacons National Park, 2017. Radnorshire Wildlife Trust records held by BIS. Occurrence dataset: https://www.bis.org.uk/ accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-09-25.

  4. Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre, 2017. BRERC species records recorded over 15 years ago. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/h1ln5p accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-25.

  5. Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre, 2017. BRERC species records within last 15 years. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/vntgox accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-25.

  6. British Trust for Ornithology, 2018. Birds (BTO+Partners). Occurrence dataset https://www.bto.org/ accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-09-25.

  7. British Trust for Ornithology, 2018. BTO First Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland: 1968-1972. Occurrence dataset: https://www.bto.org/ accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-09-25.

  8. British Trust for Ornithology, 2018. BTO First Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland: 1981/82-1983/84. Occurrence dataset: https://www.bto.org/ accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-09-25.

  9. British Trust for Ornithology, 2018. BTO First Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland: 1981/82-1983/84. Occurrence dataset: https://www.bto.org/ accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-09-25.

  10. British Trust for Ornithology, 2018. The Biodiversity in Glasgow (BIG) Project. Occurrence dataset: https://www.bto.org/research-data-services accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-09-25.

  11. Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Environmental Records Centre, 2017. CPERC Combined Dataset. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/npthhv accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-25.

  12. Cumbria Biodiversity Data Centre, 2018. Tullie House Museum Natural History Collections. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/epewfs accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-25.

  13. Dorset Environmental Records Centre, 2017. Dorset Sites of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI) species records 2000-2008. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/r1ebqb accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-25.

  14. Dorset Environmental Records Centre, 2017. Dorset Sites of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI) species records pre 2000. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/qyg29v accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-25.

  15. Dorset Environmental Records Centre, 2017. Dorset SSSI Species Records 1952 - 2004 (Natural England). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/vcjzts accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-25.

  16. Environmental Records Information Centre North East, 2018. ERIC NE Combined dataset to 2017. Occurrence dataset: http://www.ericnortheast.org.uk/home.html accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-09-38

  17. Fife Nature Records Centre, 2018. Fife Nature Records Centre combined dataset. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/ccc1ip accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-27.

  18. Fife Nature Records Centre, 2018. St Andrews BioBlitz 2014. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/erweal accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-27.

  19. Fife Nature Records Centre, 2018. St Andrews BioBlitz 2015. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/xtrbvy accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-27.

  20. Fife Nature Records Centre, 2018. St Andrews BioBlitz 2016. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/146yiz accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-27.

  21. Greater Manchester Ecology Unit, 2018. Distribution of Species of Conservation Interest in Greater Manchester. Occurrence dataset: https://www.tameside.gov.uk/ecologyunit accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-09-27.

  22. Greater Manchester Ecology Unit, 2018. Bird Records held by Greater Manchester Ecology Unit. Occurrence dataset: https://www.tameside.gov.uk/ecologyunit accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-09-27.

  23. Isle of Wight Local Records Centre, 2017. Isle of Wight Notable Species. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/sm4ety accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-27.

  24. Lancashire Environment Record Network, 2018. LERN Records. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/esxc9a accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  25. Leicestershire and Rutland Environmental Records Centre, 2017. Leicestershire and Rutland Protected and Conservation Priority/BAP Specie. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/7ve2nt accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  26. Manx Biological Recording Partnership, 2017. Isle of Man wildlife records from 01/01/2000 to 13/02/2017. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/mopwow accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  27. Manx Biological Recording Partnership, 2018. Isle of Man historical wildlife records 1990 to 1994. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/aru16v accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  28. Manx Biological Recording Partnership, 2018. Isle of Man historical wildlife records 1990 to 1994. Occurrence dataset:https://doi.org/10.15468/aru16v accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  29. Manx Biological Recording Partnership, 2018. Isle of Man historical wildlife records 1995 to 1999. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/lo2tge accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  30. Merseyside BioBank, 2017. Merseyside BioBank Active Naturalists (verified). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/ugurj2 accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  31. Merseyside BioBank., 2017. Merseyside BioBank (verified). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/ar0p6s accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  32. Merseyside BioBank., 2018. Merseyside BioBank (unverified). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/iou2ld accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  33. Merseyside BioBank., 2018. Merseyside BioBank Active Naturalists (unverified). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/smzyqf accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  34. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from: https://www.nbnatlas.org.

  35. National Trust, 2017. National Trust Species Records. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/opc6g1 accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  36. National Trust, 2017. Wicken Fen nature reserve species data held by The National Trust. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/iqeemg accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  37. National Trust, 2018. Heigham Holmes species data held by The National Trust. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/wf8xpt accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  38. National Trust, 2018. Sutton Hoo species data held by The National Trust. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/4etkkx accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  39. Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service, 2017. NBIS Records to December 2016. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/jca5lo accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  40. North East Scotland Biological Records Centre, 2018. North East Scotland Birds (1883-2010). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/o1okcz accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01

  41. OBIS,  2018. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. www.iobis.org. Accessed: 2018-12-11

  42. Project Splatter, 2017. UK Roadkill Records. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/r3xakd accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  43. Record, 2017. RECORD Aves Data. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/pudf3y accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  44. Rotherham Biological Records Centre, 2017. Rotherham Biological Records Centre - Non-sensitive Records from all taxonomic groups. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/d3tufo accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

  45. Sheffield Bird Study Group, 2017. Sheffield Bird Study Group (Yorkshire records). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/ytwnad accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

  46. South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre, 2018. SEWBReC Birds (South East Wales). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/qfainq accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

  47. South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre, 2018. Dr Mary Gillham Archive Project. Occurance dataset: http://www.sewbrec.org.uk/ accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-10-02

  48. Staffordshire Ecological Record, 2017. SER Site-based Surveys. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/h2yko0 accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

  49. Staffordshire Ecological Record, 2017. SER Species-based Surveys. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/q8qen3 accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

  50. Staffordshire Ecological Record, 2017. Staffordshire Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves Inventory. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/vhdows accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

  51. Staffordshire Ecological Record, 2017. Stoke-on-Trent Environmental Survey results (1982-1984). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/8gryb6 accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

  52. Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service., 2017. Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service (SBIS) Dataset. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/ab4vwo accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

  53. The British Association for Shooting and Conservation, 2018. UK casual records from members of BASC - 1980 onwards. Occurance dataset: https://basc.org.uk/ accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-10-02.

  54. The Wildlife Information Centre, 2017. Lothian Wildlife Information Centre Secret Garden Survey. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/k8goct accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

  55. The Wildlife Information Centre, 2017. LWIC - Local Patch Project. Occurrence dataset http://www.wildlifeinformation.co.uk/. Accessed via NBNAtlas.org/ on 2018-10-02.

  56. The Wildlife Information Centre, 2017. Natalie Harmsworth's Records (2010-2016). Occurrence dataset http://www.wildlifeinformation.co.uk/. Accessed via NBNAtlas.org/ on 2018-10-02.

  57. The Wildlife Information Centre, 2018. Borders Backyard Biodiversity. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/jfymio accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

  58. The Wildlife Information Centre, 2018. David Dodds Associates Ltd - Species Records. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/ie4asf accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

  59. The Wildlife Information Centre, 2018. TWIC - Identification Workshops dataset. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/pplu90 accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

  60. The Wildlife Information Centre, 2018. TWIC Biodiversity Field Trip Data (1995-present). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/ljc0ke accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

  61. West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre, 2017. WTSWW Data: All Taxa (West Wales). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/gaakk2 accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

  62. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, 2018. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust - Non-sensitive records from all taxonomic groups. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/2razk5 accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

Citation

This review can be cited as:

Sweet, N. A. 2008. Larus argentatus Herring gull. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 11-12-2018]. Available from: https://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/2209

Last Updated: 13/10/2008