Common gull and herring gull

The herring gull has a spot on its beak, while the common gull does not

Common gull © Eero Haapanen

The common gull (Larus canus) is the second most common species of gull found in Helsinki, after the black-headed gull. The breeding population of Helsinki consists of approximately three thousand pairs of common gulls. The largest colony of approximately four hundred birds can be found on Harakka island.

The common gull is in the process of becoming tame. On Harakka island, it has learned to nest right beside paths. Common gulls also nest on the roofs of buildings, on rocks next to piers, and sometimes atop rotting trees or in crow’s nests.

The common gull is smaller than the similarly coloured herring gull (Larus argentatus). However, the common gull does not have a red spot on its bill like the herring gull, and its eyes are dark. The calls of common gulls are shrill, cheerful and varied, like the sounds made by groups of children. They are very vocal at their nesting sites.

Harmaalokki, kuva Jussi Helimäki.

Herring gull, photo Jussi Helimäki.