The Little Gull is a petite marine bird of the Hydrocoloeus genus of the Laridae family. The scientific name of the Little Gull is Hydrocoloeus Minutus and it breeds in the northern parts of Asia and Europe. This marine bird also has small settlements in some regions of southern Canada. The Little Gull is a migratory bird, which winters on coastlines in the western parts of Europe, in small amounts in the northeastern parts of the United States and the Mediterranean. During recent times, there has been an increase in the non-breeding gulls, having summered in the western parts of Europe. Similar to many other gulls, the Little Gull has traditionally been positioned in the genus Larus. It is the only affiliate of the Hydrocoloeus genus, even though it has been recommended that the Ross's Gull will be incorporated in this genus, as well.
The Little Gull is the smallest gull in its family, with a body length that ranges from 9.8 inches to 11.8 inches (25 cm to 30 cm), with a wingspan between 24 inches and 31 inches (61 cm and 78 cm), and a body mass, ranging from 2.4 Oz to 5.7 Oz (68 grams to 162 grams).
The Little Gull is pale gray during breeding plumage with a black color hood, dark colored underwings, and habitually a pinkish color on the breast. Outside of the breeding period, this Little Gull loses the dark hood above its head, which turns into white, excluding a dark spot, and a dark cap behind its eye. The flight of the Little Gull is described as swift and floating, and its calls embrace a short, frequent kek.
During winter, the head of the Little Gull becomes white, excluding a darker eye-spot and cap. The bill of the Little Gull is thin and black in color and its legs and its feet are dark red in color. The flight of the Little Gull on its rounded wings is rather tern-like. The upperwings and the back of the Little Gull are gray in color, with a white trailing rim to its wings and its small bill is dark reddish black in color.
Juvenile Little Gull birds are distinct and they have black colored markings on their head. The Little Gull have a blackish top, black above their ears, a black color band on their tail, and their tail, neck, and upperparts are white in color and a W-outline across their wings. The Little Gull attain the maturity stage after three years of their birth.
The Little Gull picks food from the surface of the water, and it will also feed on insects that are caught in the air similar to a black tern. During the breeding period, the Little Gull feeds mostly on insects, including beetles, dragonflies and midges, and it may also feed on small fish and sea invertebrates in winter. The Little Gull is frequently seen foraging with other petite gull species, particularly during the winter season.
Usually, the Little Gull reaches its breeding places from late April to May, and it starts breeding from late June, either in small colonies, habitually with other terns and gulls or in solitary pairs. Little Gulls usually construct their nest on the ground in damp vegetation, near to or on water, regularly floating at the edge of developing vegetation. The Little Gull does not start to breed pending two to three years of age. Following the breeding period, the Little Gulls regularly gather in small groups, although bigger groups are occasionally formed.
The female Little Gull is competent to lay a maximum of 1 to 3 eggs per clutch, sometimes a maximum of four eggs. The eggs will take 23 to 25 days to hatch and the baby birds are well developed on hatching, and they will be capable of leaving their nest within some days, even though they are incapable to fly until about 21 to 24 days old and they remain reliant on their parents for a further period of one or two weeks.
The average lifespan of the Little Gull ranges from 10 years to 15 years.