Animals

13 Amaze-wing Facts About The Yellow-Legged Gull For Kids

One of the interesting yellow-legged gull facts is that it is named for its bright yellow, long legs.
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The yellow-legged gull (Larus michahellis) is a bird that is found mostly in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. It lives in a range of different habitats such as coastal cliffs, offshore sandy islands, semi-deserts, and grassy islets. It frequents urban areas as well, where it is sometimes considered a pest since it feeds on garbage and debris and even nests in garbage dumps and monuments. It feeds on a variety of things like fish, small mammals, large insects, carrion, debris, crustaceans, and so on. It is largely a scavenger and opportunistic feeder but can easily turn predatory. It is a mostly white bird that has been named for its bright-yellow legs. Like other gulls, it can fall victim to oil pollution since it favors areas close to water bodies. Even so, the yellow-legged gull is a species of 'Least Concern' according to its IUCN status and its population trend is actually on the rise.

For more relatable content, check out these laughing gull facts and kelp gull facts for kids.

Yellow-legged Gull

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Fish, crustaceans, mollusks, invertebrates, lizards, carrion, debris, small mammals, insects, rats, rock doves, chicks & eggs of terns, shelducks, petrels

What do they eat?

Omnivore

Average litter size?

2-3 eggs

How much do they weigh?

1.2-3.5 lb (550-1,600 g)

How long are they?

20.5-26.8 in (52-68 cm)


How tall are they?

Wingspan: 47-61 in (120-155 cm)


What do they look like?

White, bright yellow, gray, black, bright orange, red, yellow-gray

Skin Type

Feathers

What are their main threats?

Feathers

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Coastal cliffs, Rocky islands, urban areas, sandy islands, beaches, semi-deserts, grassy islets, near streams, lakes, rivers

Locations

Europe, North Africa, Middle East

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Aves

Scientific Name

Larus michahellis

Family

Laridae

Genus

Larus

Yellow-Legged Gull Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a yellow-legged gull?

The yellow-legged gull (Larus michahellis) is a bird.

What class of animal does a yellow-legged gull belong to?

The yellow-legged gull (Larus michahellis) belongs to the 'Aves' class of animals.

How many yellow-legged gulls are there in the world?

The exact number of yellow-legged gull birds in the world is unknown since they live close to human settlements often and are spread across a wide range of habitats. Their populations show increasing trends.

Where does a yellow-legged gull live?

The yellow-legged gull population is found in their habitats in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. It is found along large lakes and rivers along the Mediterranean coasts during the breeding and also along the Atlantic coasts from Portugal to Mauritania. In Central Asia, the yellow-legged gull lives in semi-deserts, lakes, and steppes, and in western Europe, it favors coastal areas, inland lakes, and streams. The yellow-legged gull is also found near the Black sea.

The countries in North Africa that it occurs in include Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and more recently Libya and Egypt. The Middle Eastern countries in its range include Syria, Israel, Turkey, and Cyprus. Yellow-legged gulls have spread to Central Europe and England. Some birds migrate to experience the summer season of the Red sea, Gambia, and Senegal. North America and Nigeria also see some migrants.

What is a yellow-legged gull's habitat?

Large colonies of up to thousands of yellow-legged gulls are often found near rocky islands and coastal cliffs. Yellow-legged gulls also nest on beaches and grassy islets that have streams and bushes. They are also found inland and within human habitat areas. These seabirds are seen nesting on monuments and garbage dumps in towns and cities. Yellow-legged gulls are also seen near large rivers, lakes, and semi-deserts.

Whom do yellow-legged gulls live with?

Yellow-legged gulls are found in huge flocks & colonies, in pairs, or alone. These birds are very territorial creatures, so they can be alone. During the breeding season, they are seen in pairs within their habitat. And some rocky cliffs see colonies and flocks of thousands of gulls.

How long does a yellow-legged gull live?

Yellow-legged gulls may live to be as old as 19 years of age.

How do they reproduce?

Yellow-legged gulls are known to breed in large colonies on the ground or cliffs. These birds are colonial and territorial and form monogamous pairs. They may also use rocks, pebbles, and sand as nesting sites. A cup-shaped nest is built by both males and females using grass, twigs, debris, and algae. 2-3 eggs are laid by the female in the months of March and April. The eggs are olive or buff with brown, olive, or black markings. The eggs are vigorously defended by the family adults and are incubated by both sexes for 26-29 days. Chicks are fed by the adults with regurgitated food. Chicks are semi-precocial at birth. Chicks fledge after 5-8 weeks of hatching. Yellow-legged gull pairs have just one brood per year. In Gibraltar, yellow-legged gulls have begun nesting on trees and buildings.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the yellow-legged gull (Larus michahellis) species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature is 'Least Concern'.

Yellow-Legged Gull Fun Facts

What do yellow-legged gulls look like?

The yellow-legged gull (Larus michahellis) has bright yellow, long legs. The head is squared and white and has fine streaks from the hind crown to the eye. The wings and mantle of the yellow-legged gull are gray and its tail and rump are white. The back is a slightly darker gray when compared to that of the herring gull. The wing-tips have white speculums and the primary wings also have some black. The trailing and leading edges are white. The appearance of this bird changes with seasons. In winter and autumn, the head is white and the tail has a subterminal bar that is black. The underparts stay a sparkly white all throughout the year. The bill is thicker than other gull species and has a bright orange or yellow with a red spot on the lower mandible, at the gonydeal angle. The eyes have a red ring and are yellow to yellow-gray in color.

A juvenile yellow-legged gull has a dark bar on its tail and its bill is blackish. The base of the juvenile is not dark but pale, as are the underparts and the head. The inner primary feathers are dark. In its first winter, the yellow-legged gull has dark eyes and a spotted brown mantle. Come the second winter, they have almost adult-like feathers but their eyes are still pale. It takes four years for young birds to reach adult plumage.

A subspecies found in Madeira, Canary Islands, and the Azores called the Atlantic Island gull (Larus michahellis atlantis) has a darker gray mantel and is overall smaller in size.

Yellow-legged gulls have a red spot on their lower mandibles.

How cute are they?

Yellow-legged gulls are majestic and gorgeous birds. They are mostly a pure white color and seeing them in flight is just a treat. They are known to fly in V-shaped flocks. They have beautiful yellow-gray eyes and lengthy bright yellow legs. They also have splashes of red in their eyes, on their beaks, which adds to their almost mythic beauty. They are sometimes considered a pest in urban areas, but when their impressive wingspans are on display with their loud, laughter & bark-like calls, it is quite a sight.

How do they communicate?

Yellow-legged gulls communicate via calls. Their calls, compared to herring gull birds, are more nasal and deeper. The calls of these birds are best characterized as 'loud laughs'. Yellow-legged gulls also let out squealing and wailing notes, as well as short barks. Their in-flight calls sound like 'ow-ow-ow'.

How big is a yellow-legged gull?

The yellow-legged gull is 20.5-26.8 in (52-68 cm) long with a wingspan of 47-61 in (120-155 cm), which makes it three to six times bigger than the fox sparrow and four to six times bigger than the vesper sparrow.

How fast can a yellow-legged gull fly?

Yellow-legged gulls may fly at speeds of 15-28 mph (24-45 kph). Their flight is strong and direct. The wing-beats of yellow-legged gull species are slower than herring gull birds who are faster fliers. Yellow-legged gull flocks have a V-shape in flight.

How much does a yellow-legged gull weigh?

A yellow-legged gull weighs around 1.2-3.5 lb (550-1,600 g). They are bigger than a black-headed gull.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Much like other birds, males and females of the yellow-legged gull species as called 'cocks' and 'hens' respectively.

What would you call a baby yellow-legged gull?

A baby yellow-legged gull is called a chick.

What do they eat?

Yellow-legged gulls feed on a diet of fish, crustaceans, mollusks, invertebrates, lizards, carrion, debris, small mammals, insects, chicks & eggs of terns, shelducks, and petrels.

In Italy, during the Coronavirus lockdown in 2020, urban populations of yellow-legged gull species adopted a predatory food diet. They used prey like rock doves and rats for food.

Are they dangerous?

No, yellow-legged gulls are not particularly dangerous to humans. These birds have to live close to human settlements sometimes because it is their habitats that human settlements get built on. They are considered a pest because they nest in the garbage and on monuments and buildings. In fact, it is yellow-legged gulls that have their eggs stolen by humans in their eastern range.

Would they make a good pet?

No, they would most definitely not make good pets. Yellow-legged gulls are a wild species of animals who thrive with their freedom to roam around. They forage and nest in the wild, sometimes close to human settlements.

Did you know...

Since they are seabirds, the yellow-legged gulls are vulnerable to oil spills.

The scientific name of the species, Larus michahellis, is in honor of the German zoologist, Karl Michahelles.

The yellow-legged gull has only recently become a full species, it used to be a subspecies of the herring gull until 1993. It was also a subspecies of the Caspian gull (Larus cachinnans). Larus cachinnans michahellis Naumann is a former name of the yellow-legged gull.

The Atlantic Island gull or the Atlantic gull (L. m. atlantis) subspecies have the potential to be a full species itself.

Seagulls or gulls that have yellow legs include the lesser black-backed gull, the common gull, and the yellow-legged gull.

In most places, seagulls are wild birds that are protected, meaning no one can kill them. Because of some nuisance caused by seagulls in UK's coastal towns, licenses are sometimes issued to destroy the nests of seagulls.

What is the largest gull in the world?

The great black-backed gull is the biggest gull that exists. It has a massive wingspan of 59-67 in (1.5-1.7 m) and is 25.2-31.1 in (64-79 cm) long.

Do yellow-legged gulls migrate?

Yellow-legged gulls are somewhat migratory. Many birds do not indulge in migration but some do after the summer season. Those that undergo migration move to the milder areas of western Europe in the winter season. Some head as far down south as Senegal, Gambia, and the Red sea. Some choose to go north in the late summer after breeding, to southern areas of England. Nigeria and North America, particularly North Carolina, sometimes see vagrants as well.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Nicobar pigeon facts and monk parakeet fun facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable ivory gull coloring pages.

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