Monday, February 6, 2012

Black-headed Gulls in winter

Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) breeds in most parts of Europe and Asia, but also in coastal eastern Canada.
They are the most common gulls living in our country, found on a wide variety of habitats such as shallow waters, lakes, ponds, rivers, in the Danube Delta and at the Black Sea.
Some part of the gull populations are resident and others are migratory, moving southwards in winter.

In the last years Black-headed Gulls are unusual winter guests in our town, sharing our Somesul Mic river with the ducks. They are extremely noisy birds but they are a great joy for children, happy to feed them with bread.
Black Headed Gulls on the Somesul Mic river
What's interesting about these birds is that they change the color of their plumage according to the season.
In summer they have their breeding plumage on. Adults have a chocolate-brown head (erroneously mentioned as black), the body and wings are pale grey, with black tips on the wing feathers. The bill is red with a black tip, and the legs are also red.
Black Headed Gull in winter plumage
In winter they lose their black hood, their head becomes white with just a blackish spot behind the eye or two dusky blurred bands on the crown.
Black Headed Gull-adult in winter plumage
The young of the Black-backed Gull have a different coloration too but only during the first winter. Juvenile have buff to darker brown markings on the upperparts and upperwing and black bands on their tail.
Also, their feet and beaks are reddish brown, while the adults have vivid red feet and beaks.

In the next picture there are three young gulls and an adult. The coloration on the juvenile wings is very well visible.
Black Headed Gulls-young  with brown feathers
Gulls are elegant flyers, its a great pleasure for photographers to capture their flight.
Black Headed Gulls in flight
Here is how they look like in their breeding plumage in summer.
Black-headed Gulls in breeding plumage
See photos of seagulls from last winter.

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