basic information

Little Gull

Larus minutus (Pallas, 1776)

Малая чайка | Кіші шағала

Burilkol lake, Northern Kazakhstan
© Gennadiy Dyakin


Little Gull is very small (2/3 size of Black-headed Gull) gull. Adult Little Gulls in spring plumage have glossy-black head. Mantle is pale-bluish-grey. Flight feathers are bluish-grey white tipped; lower surface of primaries and underwing are blackish-grey. White strips across wing. All other parts of plumage are white often pink-tinged on breast and belly. Bill is blackish-red, legs are red. Eyes are dark-brownish. In winter plumage head is mostly white with dark spots on crown, nape and ear-coverts. Bill in winter is blackish. Juveniles have brownish upperparts with buffy-white edges of feathers. Head is white with dark spots on head-flanks. Craw with unclear brownish spots. Tail feathers are white with black preterminal bar. Bill is blackish, legs are reddish, eyes are black. Sizes: wing 210-240 mm, tarsus 25-30 mm, bill 20-25 mm. Weight 119-122 gr.


Little Gull Breeds in northern half of plain Kazakhstan, in south to Kamysh-Samar lakes, lower reaches of Turgay river, Karkaralinsk area, Zaysan depression and Alakol lake, where Little Gull was observed at 10-18 August 1993 and a colony was found at 11 May 2004. Widespread on migration, mostly in western regions, except waterless areas and highlands.


Little Gull is common breeding migrant. Inhabits fresh shallow lakes covered by above-water vegetation, flood steppe localities near rivers or lakes. Arrives from mid-April to mid-May in small groups up to 200 birds. Breeds in colonies (up to several hundred pairs), especially together with White-winged Black Tern. Nest is built from leaves of reed, reed mace, sedge or rush, and is quite large construction. But on sandy islands, where Little Gulls nest with Avocet, nest is only a shallow hole lined with small amount of dry grass. Clutches of 2-3 eggs in end May - June, but sometimes in mid-July (probably renesting). Both parents incubate and care for juveniles, which hatch in June and begin to fly in end June - early August. Autumn migration begins early, in end of July, latest birds recorded up to mid-September, but on Mangyshlak Little Gulls were observed up to end of October. Wintering in small numbers on Caspian Sea, in south of Alexander Bay gulf.


"Птицы Казахстана" том 2. Алма-Ата, 1962. Э.И.Гаврилов. "Фауна и распространение птиц Казахстана". Алматы, 1999. Gavrilov E. I., Gavrilov A. E. "The Birds of Kazakhstan". Almaty, 2005.


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