Common gull

Common Gull

©Margaret Holland

Common gull

Scientific name: Larus canus
Despite its name, the common gull is not as common as some of our other gulls. It can be spotted breeding at the coast, but is also partial to sports fields, landfill sites and housing estates in winter.

Species information


Length: 38-44cm
Wingspan: 1.2m
Weight: 400g
Average lifespan: 10 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Amber under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015).

When to see

January to December


The common gull can be found on farmland, wetland and coastal habitats throughout the UK. A medium-sized gull, it is similar in appearance to the larger, herring gull, but lacks the famous red spot on its bill. It breeds on coastal marshes, sand dunes, rocky ledges and shingle beaches, and even on buildings. It can be spotted at landfill sites eating rubbish, but is not as common inland as its name suggests.

How to identify

Gulls can be very difficult to tell apart, especially immature birds. Common gulls are silvery-grey above and white below, with a white head (streaky during the winter) and black wingtips. They are smaller than the similar herring gull, and have greenish-yellow legs and a yellow bill.


Nests on marshland and around lakes in the north of England and Scotland. Non-breeding birds are widespread.

Did you know?

Despite its name, the common gull is one of our scarcer gulls, much less common than black-headed gull or herring gull. Known to frequent sports fields and parks, it has a habit of 'paddling' - stamping its feet to imitate rain and encourage its invertebrate prey to the surface.