Black Tailed Gull Profile: Traits, Facts, Range, Diet, Lifespan

black tailed gull

The black-tailed gull, scientifically known as Larus crassirostris, is a seabird species found along the coast of East Asia. This species is known for its distinctive black tail feathers, which give it its name.  Black-tailed gulls have a white body plumage, with grey wings and a black tail. Their bill is relatively thick and sturdy, suited for capturing prey in their marine habitat. Their legs are usually pink or orange in color, and they have webbed feet, which aid them in swimming and foraging for food in the water.

Black Tailed Gull Profile: Traits, Facts, Range, Diet, Lifespan

The conservation status of the black-tailed gull is currently stable, with healthy populations across its range. However, like many coastal bird species, they face threats from habitat loss, pollution, and disturbance from human activities. Conservation efforts aimed at protecting their coastal habitats are essential for ensuring the long-term survival of this species.

Physical Characteristics

The black-tailed gull is a medium-sized bird, measuring around 46 centimeters in length, with a wingspan ranging from 126 to 128 centimeters. It features distinctive yellow legs and a bill adorned with a red and black mark near the tip.

Distribution and Habitat

These gulls are primarily found along the coastlines of East Asia, including countries such as Japan, China, and Korea. They inhabit a variety of coastal habitats, including rocky shores, sandy beaches, and offshore islands. Additionally, black-tailed gulls are known to frequent coastal towns and fishing harbors.


In Japan, the black-tailed gull is particularly prevalent, nesting from Hokkaido to western Kyushu. Notably, a significant population congregates on Kabushima, a peninsula in Hachinohe, Aomori, where a Shinto shrine was erected in 1269 to honor the bird’s role as a guardian of the fishing industry. This site has become a National Natural Monument and a popular tourist attraction, drawing over 3,000 nesting pairs annually.


Along the Korean coast and various islands, the black-tailed gull is also a common sight. Liancourt Rocks, in particular, hosts a substantial population exceeding 20,000 individuals, with numbers steadily increasing due to the absence of natural predators. In recognition of its significance, the black-tailed gull has been designated as a mascot for these rocks.

North America

While sightings of the black-tailed gull in North America are rare, occasional visits have been documented. For instance, in 2005, one was spotted in Burlington, Vermont, marking a notable occurrence. Additionally, the species has been sighted on several occasions in Illinois, albeit infrequently.

Behavior and Diet

Black-tailed gulls are opportunistic feeders, preying on a variety of marine organisms. Their diet includes fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and scavenged food scraps. They are often seen foraging along the shoreline, wading in shallow water, or scavenging for food near human settlements.

Sexual Dimorphism

Male and female black-tailed gulls exhibit sexual dimorphism, meaning there are physical differences between the sexes. In this species, males are typically larger compared to females. However, apart from size, both males and females share similar physical characteristics and plumage.

Plumage and Vocalizations

True to its name, the black-tailed gull possesses a striking black tail, which sets it apart from other gull species. These birds emit a unique, cat-like call, leading to their Japanese name, “Umeenko,” and their Korean name, “Nguyen-ye Gul,” both of which translate to “cat gull.”

Cultural Significance

In Japan, the black-tailed gull holds cultural significance and is recognized as one of Japan’s 100 soundscapes in Hachinohe. Its distinctive call adds to the ambient soundscape of coastal regions, contributing to the rich cultural tapestry of the area.

Feeding Habits

The black-tailed gull primarily sustains itself on a diet consisting of small fish, mollusks, crustaceans, and carrion. Studies examining the contents of gull feces in Korea revealed that fish remnants accounted for 1.5%, crustaceans for 1.6%, and insects for 1.5% of the detectable fraction.

Foraging Behavior

These gulls are often observed trailing behind ships and commercial fishing fleets, taking advantage of discarded scraps and easy access to prey stirred up by the vessels. They are also notorious for scavenging and stealing food from other seabirds, utilizing their agile flight and opportunistic nature to procure sustenance.


Black-tailed gulls typically nest in colonies, establishing breeding colonies by mid-April. Egg-laying occurs in early June, with clutches usually consisting of 2-3 eggs. The incubation period lasts approximately 24 days, during which both parents take turns to ensure the eggs are kept warm and protected.

Conservation Status

While the black-tailed gull is not currently considered threatened, conservation efforts are essential to safeguard its habitat and population. Protecting coastal areas and minimizing human disturbance are crucial steps in ensuring the continued well-being of these birds and their ecosystems.

Vocal Communication

The black-tailed gull employs a diverse range of vocalizations, utilizing more than 10 distinct vocal signals to communicate various messages. These vocal cues play a crucial role in the social interactions and behaviors of these birds.

Parent-Offspring Recognition

Young black-tailed gulls demonstrate an impressive ability to recognize their parents from both auditory and visual stimuli within a remarkably short period—typically within 10 to 15 days of hatching. Furthermore, they can also distinguish between siblings and non-siblings, aiding in the establishment of familial bonds within the colony.

Alarm Calls

One of the most vital vocalizations utilized by black-tailed gulls is the alarm call, which serves as a warning signal to alert others of potential danger or threats in the vicinity. These alarm calls are essential for coordinating responses and ensuring the safety of the colony.

Communication Calls

In addition to alarm calls, black-tailed gulls also employ communication calls for inter-specific communication and social interactions. Among these calls, the most commonly heard is the cat-like “maw call,” which is used in various contexts such as returning to the nest after receiving food, coordinating collective flights, and caring for young chicks.

Black-tailed Gull vs. Seagull

Although commonly referred to as “seagulls,” there isn’t a specific bird species known as such. Instead, the term encompasses various gull species, including the Black-tailed Gull. However, the Black-tailed Gull possesses distinctive features that distinguish it from other gulls, such as its black tail band, yellow bill with a black tip and red spot, and darker plumage compared to some other gull species.

Black-tailed Gull Sound

The vocalizations of the Black-tailed Gull are characterized as loud and diverse. While they commonly emit a “kaoo-kaoo” call, their vocal repertoire also includes yelps, barks, and meowing sounds, setting them apart from other gull species.


When breeding, Black-tailed Gulls typically lay clutches of 2-3 olive-green to buff-colored eggs, often adorned with brown speckles. These eggs are typically deposited in nests constructed on the ground, cliffs, or man-made structures. The nests are meticulously built by both parents and are lined with softer materials like feathers, grass, or moss to ensure a cozy environment for the growing chicks.

Nesting Behavior

Black-tailed Gulls exhibit colonial nesting behavior, congregating in large colonies where numerous nests are established nearby. These colonies are commonly found on coastal cliffs, islands, or even man-made structures like rooftops or platforms. The communal nesting strategy provides safety in numbers and facilitates social interactions among colony members.

Female Vocalization

Female black-tailed gulls also play an active role in vocal communication, particularly during begging and courtship behaviors. Their vocalizations serve as important signals during these crucial reproductive stages, facilitating mate selection and pair bonding.


A chick is a young Black-tailed Gull that has recently hatched from its egg but is not yet capable of flight. Covered in soft downy feathers, chicks rely entirely on their parents for warmth, protection, and nourishment. They remain nestled within the nest, where they are carefully tended to by their parents.


Fledging marks the pivotal moment when a chick transitions from its dependence on parental care to independence. In Black-tailed Gulls, fledging typically occurs approximately 40-45 days after hatching. During this period, chicks begin to exercise their wings, practicing flapping motions and undertaking short flights from the nest under the watchful eye of their parents. How AI, ChatGPT maximizes earnings of many people in minutes


Juvenile Black-tailed Gulls are young birds that have successfully fledged but have not yet attained sexual maturity. While resembling adults in appearance, juveniles exhibit duller plumage and darker beaks. Although they are beginning to explore their surroundings and forage independently, juveniles still rely on their parents for guidance and occasional food assistance as they continue to develop their foraging skills.

Black Tailed Gull Profile: Traits, Facts, Range, Diet, Lifespan

Foraging Behavior

Black-tailed Gulls are opportunistic feeders, adept at exploiting various food sources based on availability. They demonstrate remarkable adaptability, scavenging for scraps near fishing boats, beaches, and landfills, as well as capturing fish and other small prey in the water. Juvenile gulls, in particular, are in the learning phase of foraging, observing their parents’ behavior, and gradually honing their hunting techniques.


The Black-tailed Gull boasts a remarkable lifespan, with individuals capable of living up to 20 years in their natural habitat. This extended longevity allows them ample time to develop and refine their foraging techniques, as well as to contribute to their colony’s dynamics and stability over many breeding seasons. Motivation – Mind – Success – Thinking – Productivity – Happiness


As medium-sized gulls, Black-tailed Gulls typically measure around 46 centimeters (18 inches) in length, with an impressive wingspan ranging from 126 to 128 centimeters (49.6 to 50.3 inches). This moderate size and wingspan facilitate efficient gliding and soaring, enabling them to cover substantial distances as they navigate coastal environments in search of food and suitable nesting sites.


Renowned for their aerial prowess, Black-tailed Gulls are highly adept flyers capable of executing intricate maneuvers and breathtaking aerial displays. Leveraging their robust wing muscles, they soar effortlessly across vast expanses, whether scouring the coastline for prey or embarking on migratory journeys between breeding and wintering grounds. Their flight is characterized by a blend of power and agility, allowing them to snatch food from the water’s surface or engage in mid-air pursuits with remarkable precision. Business – Money Making – Marketing – E-commerce


The plumage of the Black-tailed Gull undergoes notable changes throughout different stages of life and seasons. Adults exhibit a striking contrast of black and white, with a distinctive black tail that lends the species its name. Their heads and underparts are pristine white, while their mantle and upper wing sport a slate-grey hue. During winter, adults develop subtle streaks of dark grey on their heads, providing additional camouflage against wintry landscapes. Juveniles, on the other hand, display a more mottled appearance with brown and white plumage, gradually transitioning to the iconic adult coloration for several years.


Black-tailed gulls have evolved several remarkable adaptations that equip them for life in coastal habitats. Their sturdy, pointed beaks are finely tuned for capturing fish, their primary source of sustenance. Additionally, their webbed feet facilitate swift swimming and agile maneuvering through aquatic environments, while their sleek bodies and elongated wings are optimized for efficient flight. Exceptional eyesight enables them to spot prey from afar, while a specialized layer of waterproof feathers ensures insulation and protection against the elements in their cold and wet habitats. Health books, guides, exercises, habits, Diets, and more


As migratory birds, black-tailed gulls embark on extensive journeys between their breeding and non-breeding grounds. During the summer breeding season, they congregate in colonies along northern hemisphere coastlines, where they nest and raise their young. As winter approaches and food becomes scarce, they undertake southward migrations to warmer regions, following the availability of prey resources.


The plumage of black-tailed gulls displays striking variations depending on factors such as age and breeding status. Breeding adults boast a distinguished black head, complemented by a pristine white neck, and gray back and wings. Their tail feathers feature a striking black hue, tipped elegantly with white. Conversely, non-breeding adults exhibit a more subdued appearance, characterized by a streaked head and neck. Juveniles showcase a mottled brown plumage, gradually transitioning into the characteristic adult coloration over time. Fitness – Meditation – Diet – Weight Loss – Healthy Living – Yoga


Black-tailed gulls are renowned for their assertive and sometimes combative behavior, particularly when it comes to securing food resources or defending their nesting territories. They readily engage in confrontations and aerial pursuits with other gulls, employing aggressive tactics to outcompete rivals and assert dominance. This aggressive demeanor serves as a vital survival strategy, ensuring access to essential resources and safeguarding their reproductive success in the face of intense competition within their coastal ecosystems.


Black-tailed gulls possess formidable wings, characterized by their strength and expansive breadth, which are finely tuned for extensive aerial journeys and adept maneuverability. These wings enable the gulls to effortlessly glide on air currents, traverse vast distances in search of food, and execute precise diving maneuvers to capture prey with remarkable efficiency. RPM 3.0 – 60% CONVERSION & Money for Affiliate Marketing


Renowned for their unwavering dedication to parental duties, black-tailed gulls exhibit exemplary caregiving behavior. Both parents actively participate in nest construction, egg incubation, and the provision of nourishment to their offspring post-hatching. They fiercely defend their vulnerable chicks from potential threats and ensure their well-being by providing constant warmth and protection until they are ready to fledge.


The incubation period for black-tailed gulls typically spans approximately 28 to 32 days. Upon hatching, the chicks emerge as altricial beings, characterized by their helpless state and reliance on parental care for survival. Covered in soft downy feathers, these chicks exhibit limited mobility initially and gradually undergo growth and development as they acquire their flight feathers over time. Bird accessories on Amazon


Black-tailed gulls confront a myriad of predators throughout their lives, including avian predators such as falcons and eagles, terrestrial mammals like foxes and raccoons, and even other gull species. To mitigate the risk of predation, these gulls employ a repertoire of defensive strategies. They remain vigilant, constantly scanning their surroundings for potential threats, and engage in mobbing behavior, where multiple individuals harass and drive away predators. Additionally, nesting in colonies provides collective protection, as the sheer numbers of gulls enhance vigilance and deter potential threats, thereby safeguarding the vulnerable chicks and ensuring the colony’s overall safety.

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