Larus ridibundus 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Charadriiformes Laridae

Scientific Name: Larus ridibundus
Species Authority: Linnaeus, 1766
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Black-headed Gull, Common Black-headed Gull
French Mouette rieuse
Chroicocephalus ridibundus ridibundus Christidis and Boles (2008)
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L., Calvert, R.
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2009 Least Concern (LC)
2008 Least Concern (LC)
2004 Least Concern (LC)
2000 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
1994 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
1988 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The Black-headed Gull breeds in north-east North America and across much of Europe and Asia, excluding the north of each continent (northern Scandinavia and north Russia), and south Asia. Some populations in North America and the milder areas of Europe are resident, with the remaining populations wintering to the south over a large range, encompassing much of the southern coast of Asia and Europe, and the central and northern coast of Africa (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Countries occurrence:
Afghanistan; Albania; Algeria; Antigua and Barbuda; Armenia (Armenia); Austria; Azerbaijan; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Barbados; Belarus; Belgium; Benin; Bermuda; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Burkina Faso; Cambodia; Canada; Cape Verde; China; Côte d'Ivoire; Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Djibouti; Dominica; Egypt; Eritrea; Estonia; Ethiopia; Faroe Islands; Finland; France; French Guiana; Gambia; Georgia; Germany; Ghana; Gibraltar; Greece; Greenland; Guadeloupe; Guam; Guinea-Bissau; Hong Kong; Hungary; Iceland; India; Indonesia; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Japan; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Kenya; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Kuwait; Kyrgyzstan; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Latvia; Lebanon; Libya; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Malaysia; Mali; Malta; Martinique; Mauritania; Mexico; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Moldova; Mongolia; Montenegro; Montserrat; Morocco; Myanmar; Nepal; Netherlands; Niger; Nigeria; Northern Mariana Islands; Norway; Oman; Pakistan; Palau; Palestinian Territory, Occupied; Philippines; Poland; Portugal; Puerto Rico; Qatar; Romania; Russian Federation; Rwanda; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Pierre and Miquelon; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Serbia (Serbia); Singapore; Slovakia; Slovenia; Somalia; South Sudan; Spain; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Suriname; Svalbard and Jan Mayen; Sweden; Switzerland; Syrian Arab Republic; Taiwan, Province of China; Tajikistan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Trinidad and Tobago; Tunisia; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Uganda; Ukraine; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom; United States (Georgia); Uzbekistan; Viet Nam; Virgin Islands, U.S.; Western Sahara; Yemen
Angola (Angola); Australia; Bahamas; Botswana; Brunei Darussalam; Burundi; Cameroon; Chad; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Cuba; Grenada; Guinea; Liberia; Maldives; Papua New Guinea; Seychelles; Sierra Leone; South Africa; Turks and Caicos Islands; Zimbabwe
Present - origin uncertain:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 16700000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Continuing decline in number of locations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations: No
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The global population is estimated to number c.4,800,000-8,900,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while national population estimates include: > c.1,000 individuals on migration and > c.1,000 wintering individuals in China; c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration and > c.1,000 wintering individuals in Taiwan; > c.1,000 individuals on migration and > c.1,000 wintering individuals in Korea; < c.10,000 individuals on migration and c.1,000-10,000 wintering individuals in Japan and c.10,000-1 million breeding pairs and > c.1,000 individuals on migration in Russia (Brazil 2009).

Trend Justification:  The overall population trend is decreasing, although some populations have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006). This species has undergone a large and statistically significant increase over the last 40 years in North America (361% increase over 40 years, equating to a 46.6% increase per decade; data from Breeding Bird Survey and/or Christmas Bird Count: Butcher and Niven 2007) Note, however, that these surveys cover less than 50% of the species's range in North America.
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations: No Population severely fragmented: No
Continuing decline in subpopulations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No All individuals in one subpopulation: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Behaviour Northern breeding populations of this species are strongly migratory although populations at lower latitudes tend to be sedentary or locally dispersive (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species breeds between April and May (del Hoyo et al. 1996) in dense colonies of up to several thousand pairs (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998) often with other gull or tern species (Flint et al. 1984). It generally remains gregarious throughout the year (Snow and Perrins 1998) and may roost in large flocks during the winter (Richards 1990). Habitat Breeding The species chiefly breeds inland and shows a preference for shallow, calm (Snow and Perrins 1998), temporarily flooded wetland habitats (del Hoyo et al. 1996) with lush vegetation (Flint et al. 1984, del Hoyo et al. 1996). It forms nesting colonies on the margins of lakes (Flint et al. 1984, Richards 1990, del Hoyo et al. 1996), lagoons (Flint et al. 1984, Snow and Perrins 1998), slow-flowing rivers, deltas, estuaries (Snow and Perrins 1998) and on tussocky marshes (Flint et al. 1984, Richards 1990, del Hoyo et al. 1996), but may also nest on the upper zones of saltmarshes (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998), coastal dunes and offshore islands in more coastal areas (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species will also utilise artificial sites such as sewage ponds, gravel- and clay-pits, ponds, canals and floodlands (Snow and Perrins 1998) and may nest on the dry ground of heather moors, sand-dunes, beaches (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998) and stony islets (Snow and Perrins 1998). Non-breeding During the winter the species is most common in coastal habitats (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and tidal inshore waters, showing a preference for inlets or estuaries with sandy or muddy beaches, and generally avoiding rocky or exposed coastlines (Snow and Perrins 1998). It may also occur inland during this season, frequenting ploughed fields, moist grasslands, urban parks, sewage farms, refuse tips, reservoirs, ponds and ornamental waters (Snow and Perrins 1998), and roosts on sandy and gravel sites or on inland reservoirs (Richards 1990). Diet Its diet consists predominantly of aquatic and terrestrial insects, earthworms and marine invertebrates (e.g. molluscs, crustaceans and marine worms) (del Hoyo et al. 1996) although it may also take fish (del Hoyo et al. 1996) (usually dead or sick) (Flint et al. 1984), rodents (e.g. voles) (Flint et al. 1984) and agricultural grain (del Hoyo et al. 1996). During the non-breeding season the species may rely heavily on artificial food sources provided by man, especially in Western Europe (del Hoyo et al. 1996), and often scavenges from refuse tips during this period (Richards 1990). Breeding site The nest is a rough construction of vegetation (Richards 1990) based on a shallow scrape (Snow and Perrins 1998) and placed on a floating mat, in broken reeds, on a hummock, or sometimes on dry, grassy or sandy ground (Flint et al. 1984, del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species shows a strong preference for nesting near vegetation (although vegetation overgrowth can lead to the desertion of colony sites) (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It usually nests in dense colonies with neighbouring nests placed an average of 1 m apart (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Unknown
Generation Length (years): 9.6
Movement patterns: Full Migrant
Congregatory: Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species is susceptible to avian influenza (Melville and Shortridge 2006) and avian botulism so may be threatened by future outbreaks of these diseases (Hubalek et al. 2005). It may also be threatened by future coastal oil spills (Gorski et al. 1977) and has suffered local population declines in the past as a result of egg collecting (del Hoyo et al. 1996). In some areas of its breeding range the species may also suffer from reduced reproductive successes due to contamination with chemical pollutants (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2012. Larus ridibundus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T22694420A38851158. . Downloaded on 31 May 2016.
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