The Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis) is a large
gull of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. It is sometimes considered
to be part of the same species as the Caspian Gull and the combined species
is then called Larus cachinnans.
The breeding range is centred around the Mediterranean Sea. In North Africa
it is common in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia and increasing in places.
Recent breeding has occurred in Libya and Egypt. In the Middle East a few
breed in Israel and Syria with larger numbers in Cyprus and Turkey. In
Europe there are colonies all along the Mediterranean coast and it also
breeds on the west side of the Black Sea. Here it overlaps with the Caspian
Gull but there is a difference in habitat with the Yellow-legged Gull choosing
sea cliffs. In recent decades birds have spread north into central Europe
and first bred in Britain in 1995. The Yellow-legged Gull is also common
in Gibraltar, the Canary Islands, Madeira Islands and the Azores.
Many birds remain in the same area all year round but others migrate to
spend the winter in mild areas of Western Europe or head south as far as
Senegal, the Gambia and the Red Sea. It is reported as a vagrant to northeastern
North America and Nigeria.
Adults are similar to Herring Gulls but have yellow legs. They have a
grey back, slightly darker than Herring Gulls but lighter than Lesser Black-backed
Gulls. They are much whiter-headed in autumn, and have more extensively
black wing tips with few white spots, just as Lesser Black-backed. They
have a red spot on the bill as adults, like the entire complex. There is
a red ring around the eye like in the Lesser Black-backed Gull but unlike
in the Herring Gull which has a dark yellow ring.
First-year birds have a paler head, rump and underparts than those of
the Herring Gull. They have a dark bill and eyes, pinkish grey legs, dark
flight feathers and a well-defined black band on the tail. They become
lighter un the underparts and lose the upperpart pattern subsequently.
By their second winter, birds are essentially feathered like adults, save
for the patterned feathers remaining on the wing coverts. However, their
billtips are black, their eyes still dark, and the legs are a light yellow
The call is a loud laugh which is deeper and more nasal than the call
of the Herring Gull
These are omnivores like most Larus gulls, and they will scavenge on rubbish
tips and elsewhere, as well as seeking suitable small prey in fields or
on the coast, or robbing plovers or lapwings of their catches.
Yellow-legged Gulls usually breed in colonies. Eggs, usually three, are
laid from mid March to early May and are defended vigorously by this large
gull. The nest is a sometimes sparse mound of vegetation built on the ground
or on cliff ledges. In some places such as Gibraltar they have started
nesting on buildings. The eggs are incubated for 27-31 days and the young
birds fledge after 35-40 days.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia