Viola Stirling’s Nature Diary – 15 Jul 1921

Black-headed gulls are one of the easiest gulls to identify. As Viola notes, their heads are not really black but are instead a ‘coffee colour’. This distinctive feature only occurs during the breeding season. When winter arrives, their heads will return to being white with a small smudge behind the eye.

Black-headed gulls are now very much urban gulls. They have a wide diet that consists of insects, earthworms, plant material and our rubbish and leftovers.

The gulls are a lot smaller than the lesser black-backed and herring gulls which you may also see in your garden.  They are very sociable and have a distinctive “kree-ar” call.


July 15. Riverdale. The black headed gulls are very tame here.

They come and feed in the garden. Two or three

young ones have come too. They are almost all a

sort of coffee colour for the first year. The old

ones have a queer sort of performance that they go

through now and again. The tail is elevated, the wings

slightly extended, with the tips raised, and the head alternately

raised and lowered. A sort of bowing performance. Two

gulls seem to vie with each other in doing this. Sometimes

seemingly for the benefit of a third party, sometimes

seemingly not. During the performance they make noises

like a distorted dove’s coo.