The Little Gull (Hydrocoloeus minutus) is a small gull which breeds in northern Europe and Asia. It also has small colonies in parts of northern Canada. It is migratory, wintering on coasts in western Europe, the Mediterranean and (in small numbers) the northeast USA. As is the case with many gulls, it has traditionally been placed in the genus Larus. It is the only member of the genus Hydrocoloeus, although it has been suggested that Ross's Gull also should be included in this genus.
Illustration, adult summer plumage
This species breeds colonially on freshwater marshes, making a lined nest on the ground amongst vegetation. Normally, 2-6 eggs are laid.
This is the smallest gull species, with a length of 25-27cm, a wingspan of 75-80cm and a weight of 68-133 grammes. It is pale grey in breeding plumage with a black hood, dark underwings and often a pinkish flush on the breast. In winter, the head goes white apart from a darker cap and eye-spot. The bill is thin and black and the legs dark red. The flight on rounded wings is somewhat tern-like.
Young birds have black markings on the head and upperparts, and "W" pattern across the wings. They take three years to reach maturity.
These gulls pick food off the water surface, and will also catch insects in the air like a Black Tern.