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Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus
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This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #

Taxonomic note
Hydrocoloeus minutus (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) was previously placed in the genus Larus.

Larus minutus Pallas, 1776

Distribution and population
The Little Gull can be found breeding in northern Scandinavia, the Baltic republics and western Russia to western Siberia, in eastern Siberia, and in the Great Lakes of North America. Its distribution expands in winter to include most of the Mediterranean, Black Sea and Caspian Sea coastlines, as well as the Atlantic coast of Europe and the north-west coast of the USA1.

Population justification
The global population is estimated to number c.97,000-270,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while national population sizes have been estimated at c.100-10,000 breeding pairs and c.50-1,000 individuals on migration in China and c.100-10,000 breeding pairs and c.50-1,000 individuals on migration in Russia (Brazil 2009).

Trend justification
The overall population trend is increasing, although some populations have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006).

Behaviour This species is fully migratory (del Hoyo et al. 1996), usually arriving in its breeding areas from late-April to late-May (Olsen and Larsson 2003) and leaving again in late-July (Richards 1990, Olsen and Larsson 2003) (although its movements are poorly documented) (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species breeds from late-Junein mixed-species colonies and subcolonies occasionally as large as 2,000 individuals, sometimes also in more solitary scattered pairs (del Hoyo et al. 1996). After breeding the species is gregarious (Snow and Perrins 1998), with groups of 10-20 individuals common at feeding or resting sites (Snow and Perrins 1998), and flocks of hundreds or even thousands congregating briefly at favourable sites or during bad weather (Snow and Perrins 1998). Large groups (thousands of individuals) may also gather on German lakes and wetlands to moult before migrating to wintering areas (Olsen and Larsson 2003). Habitat Breeding The species breeds inland on shallow freshwater and brackish lakes (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Olsen and Larsson 2003), river basins, marshes and bogs (del Hoyo et al. 1996), occasionally also at coastal lagoons (del Hoyo et al. 1996), showing a preference for habitats with lush vegetation (Richards 1990) and emergent or floating plants in muddy shallow water (Snow and Perrins 1998). Non-breeding On migration the species occurs at sea, along shores, and on reservoirs, lagoons and lakes (Olsen and Larsson 2003), wintering along the coast on sandy and muddy beaches (Olsen and Larsson 2003), mouths of rivers (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and at sea (Olsen and Larsson 2003), especially at stream and sewage outlets (Snow and Perrins 1998). Diet Breeding The species is mainly insectivorous when breeding, taking e.g. dragonflies, beetles, midges (del Hoyo et al. 1996), mayflies and stoneflies (Richards 1990). Non-breeding On migration its diet is the same as during the breeding season (consisting mainly of insects) (del Hoyo et al. 1996), although during the winter the species switches to a diet of small fish and marine invertebrates (del Hoyo et al. 1996), (Urban et al. 1986). Breeding site The nest varies from a shallow depression (Richards 1990, del Hoyo et al. 1996) to a much more substantial structure depending on the situation (Richards 1990). Nests are sited on the ground in wet vegetation adjacent to or on shallow water (Richards 1990, del Hoyo et al. 1996), floating at the edge of emergent vegetation (e.g. in reedbeds) (del Hoyo et al. 1996), on grassy islands in freshwater shallow lakes (Olsen and Larsson 2003), and occasionally also on sandbanks (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species breeds in colonies or subcolonies with nests spaced c.1-1.5 m apart, sometimes also in more solitary scattered pairs (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Olsen, K. M.; Larsson, H. 2004. Gulls of Europe, Asia and North America. Christopher Helm, London.

Richards, A. 1990. Seabirds of the northern hemisphere. Dragon's World Ltd, Limpsfield, U.K.

Snow, D. W.; Perrins, C. M. 1998. The Birds of the Western Palearctic vol. 1: Non-Passerines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Urban, E. K.; Fry, C. H.; Keith, S. 1986. The birds of Africa vol. II. Academic Press, London.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L., Calvert, R.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Hydrocoloeus minutus. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Laridae (Gulls, Terns, Skimmers)
Species name author Pallas, 1776
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Increasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 1,980,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment