There are many similar species within the gull family, making the identification of some species quite difficult even for specialists. The Black-headed Gull is easy to identify by its characteristic red bill and legs, and is often seen near waterside areas in the fall and winter. Adult Black-headed Gulls have a husky voice while their chicks, which have a lovely cry that sounds like “mee-mee” in the winter, are slow to develop the same vocal characteristics as older birds.
Play birds singing
Although identifying specific gull species can be challenging, you can easily determine whether or not a bird is a gull because they fly leisurely around the seashore with their slender wings.
Why do gulls have long, slender wings? Short wings would be inefficient when flying in search of food. And thick wings would prove problematic due to the sudden gusts of wind that often occur in windy seaside areas.
Most members of the gull family in Japan are winter birds. In other words, if you see a gull in Japan in the summer, it will most likely be a Black-tailed Gull, which stays in Japan year-round. The Slaty-backed Gull, however, is an exception and can be seen to the north of the Tohoku region in the summer. As most of the gulls that migrate to Japan from Russia during the autumn and winter can be found in coastal areas, it is safe to say that if you see a gull inland, such as around a river or lake, then it will be a Black-headed Gull.
If all the gull chicks that were born every year were able to survive during the severe winter months, the gull population would rapidly increase. Like crows, gulls are omnivorous birds and feed animal protein to their chicks. Adult gulls have also been known to hunt the chicks of other bird species.
With the exception of the Black-tailed Gull, gulls aren't seen in Japan during the breeding season because they breed in Russia. As all gulls are omnivorous, if Black-tailed Gulls are able to get enough food from garbage around the seashore of Japan to survive the winter, their numbers will increase, which would pose a threat to other seabirds that breed in Russia since the gulls will hunt their chicks.
While Black-headed Gulls can be found across the northern hemisphere, Black-tailed Gulls live only around Japan's coastal waters. Black-tailed Gulls have a black band on their tail, which stands out clearly when they fly.
The Black-headed Gull got its name because it has black plumage on its head during the spring and summer. Before they leave for Russia, Black-headed Gulls can be seen in Japan sporting the black head of their name.
Canon sites where this bird is seen