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Species Guide
A photo of a Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
Mediterranean Gull

Mediterranean Gull

Ichthyaetus melanocephalus

The Mediterranean gull, Ichthyaetus melanocephalus, presents a striking figure with its distinctive white plumage, pale grey mantle, and wings adorned with white primary feathers devoid of black tips. In its breeding attire, it sports a black hood that elegantly extends down the nape, punctuated by vivid white eye crescents. The bird's bill is a robust, dark red with a black subterminal band, and its legs are longer and darker compared to its relative, the black-headed gull.

Identification Tips

When identifying the Mediterranean gull, look for a bird slightly larger and bulkier than the black-headed gull. The adult in breeding plumage is unmistakable with its black hood and lack of black wingtip markings. In non-breeding plumage, the hood recedes, leaving a dusky mask through the eye. Juveniles can be recognized by a black terminal tail band and darker areas in the upperwings, contrasting with pale underwings.


This species favors breeding in colonies located within expansive reed beds, marshes, or on lake islands. In smaller populations, it may nest alongside black-headed gull colonies.


Originally confined to the Black Sea and eastern Mediterranean, the Mediterranean gull has expanded its range dramatically, now found across Europe to the British Isles and Ireland. It winters along the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts.


The Mediterranean gull is a sociable bird, especially in winter, forming large flocks while feeding or roosting. It is not typically found far from coasts, as it is not a pelagic species.

Song & Calls

At colonies, this gull is quite vocal, emitting a nasal "yeah" call that contributes to the cacophony of sounds in such bustling environments.

Diet and Feeding

An opportunistic omnivore, the Mediterranean gull's diet includes fish, worms, insects, eggs, young birds, offal, and carrion.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List classifies the Mediterranean gull as Least Concern. It is also protected under the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA).

Mediterranean Gull Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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Mediterranean Gull Fun Facts

Did you know?
The range of the Mediterranean Gull has expanded vastly recently and now spans from Eastern Europe to England.

Mediterranean Gulls on Birda


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