The winter plumage of the Black-Headed Gull

The winter plumage (feathers) of the Black-Headed Gull is very different from its summer plumage. 

The Black-Headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) is a coastal bird, a common seagull in Europe and Asia in the Northern Hemisphere.

For most of the year, it has a white and pale-grey body with a chocolate-brown head – not a black head. It has black tips on its wing feathers. It has a red beak and red legs. But in winter its plumage changes.

Black-Headed Gull (summer plumage)

In winter, from December to February, the chocolate-brown colour on its head disappears, leaving only two dark spots. 

Most of the population of Black-Headed Gulls are migratory. It migrates in winter to warmer climates in southern countries and regions, such as North Africa, the Middle-East, and India. 

The Black-Headed Gull from France, and most of western Europe, does not migrate. It is resident. It resides in milder westernmost areas of Europe, but it is not found in Spain, Italy, and Greece. Instead of migrating, it changes from its summer feathers (plumage) to its winter feathers. 

It prefers coastal regions, water sources with reeds, marshes, rivers, or lakes. It does not travel far out to sea. 

The Black-Headed Gull lives in colonies. It makes a nest on the ground. 

It measures 38-44 centimetres (15-17 inches) long, with a wingspan of 94-105 centimetres (37-41 inches). 

Its lifespan is about 30 years. 

Black-Headed Gull (winter plumage)
Black-Headed Gull (winter plumage)
Black-Headed Gull (winter plumage)
Black-Headed Gull (winter plumage)
Black-Headed Gull (winter plumage)
Black-Headed Gull (winter plumage)
Black-Headed Gull (winter plumage)
Black-Headed Gull (winter plumage)

Location of photographs: Paris, France

Photographer: Martina Nicolls

Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM

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