Another bird for you, any idea what this is called?
You might see this bird near water, or inland in fields or open areas or beside the sea.
The clue to its name is in the colour of its head in spring 🙂 Check under ‘B’ here: https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/
Time for a tale
When I’ve been down at the River Don for my walks, I often see this bird in the area where this story takes place….
This is a black headed gull.
Clothes and behaviour
The male (Mr) and female (Mrs) black headed gull look similar, though the female is slightly smaller:
During the spring and summer black headed gulls have a chocolate-browny head with a white ‘C’ ring around the eye, red beak and legs:
But as summer fades, black headed gulls lose their black head:
and through autumn and winter, all that remains is a sooty smudge behind their eye:
Black headed gulls are sociable birds and over this last century there’s been a big rise in their population. Many breed inland and their diet is varied, from fish, to insects to scraps from the bird table.
Here’s one copying the sand martins and trying to catch flies!
During migration many more black headed gulls arrive on our shores to winter in the UK.
These bonny birds are full of character and can be extremely noisy and quarrelsome. Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBzkk4KvX0g
Nesting and young
Black headed gulls may nest in colonies with other gulls or terns usually on or near wetland areas, but some are solitary. Nests are made of grassy materials and the birds lay 3-4 glossy green-brown eggs. These eggs are highly prized for their delicious taste.
For centuries during early May, egg collectors would raid these gulls’ nests for their precious cargo. Today this is still a legal trade for a few and those who can afford the outrageous cost wait for the slim timeframe when the rare delicacy of black headed gull eggs are on the menu. Read more here: https://www.countrylife.co.uk/food-drink/delicacy-black-headed-gulls-eggs-84813
For chicks that are not predated by neighbouring gulls or mammals, they grow rapidly, looking very like their parents over winter, except for the brown wing feathers, which they retain over their first summer:
The black headed gull can be mistaken for two other gulls that have dark heads in the summer – the mediterranean gull and the little gull, both of which breed regularly in the UK, but are seen most frequently during the migration season. Find out more here: https://www.bto.org/develop-your-skills/bird-identification/videos/bto-bird-id-small-black-headed-gulls.
Thanks for joining me, see you soon.