RESEARCH: The four most common wild bird species in the world

There are 50 billion wild birds on Earth – but four species dominate – says a New Scientist article on 17 May 2021.

Earth has around 50 billion wild bird species according to a new global estimate, but most species are very rare and only a handful number in the billions.

Just four wild species have over a billion individuals, and they are the most common wild bird species in the world. This is in contrast to 1,180 species that have less than 5,000 individual birds each.

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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.

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Pallas’s Gull

The Pallas’s Gull (Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus) is a sea bird in the seagull family. It is also known as the Great Black-Headed Gull.

The Pallas’s Gull is white with a black head. It has grey wings and a grey back, with white ‘mirrors’ at the wing tips. Its legs are yellow, with webbed feet. Its beak is orange-yellow with a red tip. Its eyes are small and dark.

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Caspian Gull

The Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans) is a medium-sized bird, a seagull related to the European Herring Gull. Cachinnans means laughing.

The Caspian Gull has a mainly creamy-coloured body with a brown-grey flecked back and wings. It has a sloping forehead and a long yellow-brown beak tipped with brown-black. Its eyes are small and dark. It has yellowish legs with webbed feet.

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Western European Herring Gull

The Western European Herring Gull (Larus argentatus argenteus) is a large sea bird. It is a seagull.

The Western European Herring Gull has a grey back and grey upper wings, with a white head and white underparts. Its wingtips are black. Its beak is yellow with a red spot and there is a ring of bare yellow skin (eye-ring) around its pale eyes. Its legs are yellow.

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