Birda Logo
Species Guide
A photo of a Little Gull (Hydrocoloeus minutus)
Little Gull

Little Gull

Hydrocoloeus minutus

The little gull, Hydrocoloeus minutus, is a diminutive member of the Laridae family, distinguished as the smallest gull species worldwide. It is the sole representative of the monospecific genus Hydrocoloeus.

Identification Tips

Adults in breeding attire sport a striking black hood, complemented by a dark red bill and vivid red legs, with a subtle rosy blush gracing the underside. In contrast, their non-breeding plumage features a black cap with an ear spot, a black bill, and more subdued red legs. Across all plumages, a pale grey back and upperwings are present, with white primaries that starkly contrast the dark grey underwing. Juveniles are marked by extensive blackish areas on the back and head, and in flight, they exhibit a dark "W" pattern on the upperwings against white underwings. By their first winter, they resemble adults but retain the distinctive upperwing pattern, which gradually fades by the second year.


The little gull favors nesting amidst dense vegetation in shallow freshwater environments, such as rivers, marshes, and bogs, occasionally venturing to coastal lagoons or brackish waters. During migration, they are typically found along coastlines but may venture inland. Wintering habitats include coastal areas with sandy or muddy substrates, river mouths, and even open sea, often drawn to sewage outfalls.


This gull has a broad Palearctic range, breeding from northern Scandinavia to eastern Siberia, with colonies also in North America around the Great Lakes. It migrates to winter along European coasts, reaching as far south as the Mediterranean, Black, and Caspian Seas, and is less common in the western Pacific. In North America, small numbers winter along the Atlantic coast down to the Carolinas. Notably, non-breeding birds have been summering in western Europe in increasing numbers.


The little gull is migratory, arriving at breeding sites from late April to late May and departing from mid-July. Egg-laying commences in mid-June. They often nest in mixed colonies with other gulls and terns, though some pairs nest solitarily. Outside breeding areas, they are sociable, forming large flocks that can number in the thousands, especially when inclement weather drives them to sheltered waters. Nests are built on the ground or floating on vegetation in the water.

Diet and Feeding

During the breeding season, these birds primarily consume insects caught on the wing near water surfaces. In winter, their diet shifts to small fish and marine invertebrates.

Conservation status

The little gull is currently classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, indicating a stable population without significant immediate threats to its survival.

App logo
Birda is a birdwatching app and community aimed at curious people who want to deepen their connection with nature.

Little Gull Fun Facts

Did you know?
Like its name suggest the Little Gull is the smallest gull species in the world.

Little Gulls on Birda


More Gulls, Terns, Skimmers

Birda Logo

Your birdwatching journey like never before

Connect with nature in minutes
Take a walk, look out of the window and log the birds that you see. Feel good about those little connections to nature.
Discover the joy of birding
Find new birding spots, see more birds, share and celebrate with a like-minded community of nature lovers.
Play your part in saving nature
Logging your birding sightings and sessions turns into positive action for our planet. Every sighting counts.

Birda Blog

What Our Birders Say
Recommend for any bird watcher
Very wholesome app: I joined this app with a new interest in watching birds to help me find out what I was spotting. The community is very active in helping identify birds which is great and everyone is very kind so it’s just a nice wholesome community. I would definitely recommend this for any bird spotter πŸ˜ƒ
Louise L
Easy to use and accurate
Love this app. It is easy to use and accurate, Their backup communication is really good. I noted a missing species. All through the process, I was kept informed about the progress in correcting the information. I now have the corrected, updated version. 😁 Thanks!
A mordern game changer
Birda is an awesome app, its updated the world of birding to the modern day with a fun and easy to use app. It’s engaging and allows positive interaction with fellow bird lovers!
Ideal Birdwatch Companion
Simply adds to the enjoyment of my birdwatching and helps me record what I’ve seen.
Mike T
Sense of Community
A great app, which is continually being improved. What really comes through is the passion of those behind the app. The sense of community is brilliant, so much help and support provided to new and/or in experienced birders.
Awesome App
I really enjoy using this app! It is such a friendly community of bird-lovers who are happy to help if I need ID advice. It’s been great motivation to get outdoors and go birding more! 10/10 😍😍
Simply fantastic
I love this app, it puts so much fun into recording the birds I’ve seen and heard while I’m out and about. The interface is user-friendly and suitable for all ages. It’s great to collect badges and to review my β€œlists”.
Such a great app!
I didn’t think I could enjoy birding more but this app makes it so much better. Some great features and a really great way to share your sightings with your friends or fellow birders nearby or around the world! ❀️
Very Wholesome App
Joined this app with a new interest in watching birds to help me find out what I was spotting. The community is very active in helping identify birds which is great and everyone is very kind so it’s just a nice wholesome community. I would definitely recommend this for any bird spotter πŸ˜„
Alice J
Awesome Birding Community
I absolutely love the community aspect of this app. The app is so user friendly and has fun interactive challenges to get you out birding. I’ve tried others but since I’ve started using Birda I’ve not gone back!
As featured in
Birda Logo
AboutPressAmbassadorsAffiliatesInfluencersCareersPrivacyTerms & Conditions
An app for birdwatchers
Connect with us
Copyright Β© 2024 Chirp Birding. All rights reserved.