Thai National Parks

Birds of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Black-tailed gull

Thai: นกนางนวลหางดำ, nok naang nuan hang dam

Binomial name: Larus crassirostris, Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot, 1818

The black-tailed gull (Larus crassirostris) is a medium-sized (46 cm) gull, with a wingspan of 126–128 cm. The bird is resident in East Asia, including China, Taiwan, Japan and Korea. It is a vagrant to Alaska and northeastern North America.

It has yellow legs and a red and black spot at the end of the bill. This gull takes four years to reach full adult plumage. As the name suggests, it has a black tail. The bird has a cat-like call, giving it its Japanese name — umineko, "sea cat", and Korean name — gwaeng-yi gull, which means "cat" gull. In Hachinohe they are one of the 100 Soundscapes of Japan.

The black-tailed gull feeds mainly on small fish, molluscs, crustaceans scraps and carrion. It often follows ships and commercial fishing fleets. It does steal food from other seabirds.

It is a colonial nester, with colonies forming in mid-April. 2–3 eggs are laid by early June. Incubation lasts approximately 24 days.

An enormous gathering of black-tailed gulls can be found at the Kabushima Shrine at Hachinohe, Aomori, Japan. This Shinto shrine was raised by fishermen in 1269 (though it has been rebuilt several times since) to honour the black-tailed gull, which is seen as a messenger of the goddess of the fishery. For over 700 years, the species has enjoyed reverence, feeding and protection from the local population. As a result, every summer, over 40, 000 seagulls nest and raise their young in the grounds of the shrine and the surrounding island, which has been designated a National Natural Treasure by the government of Japan. The seagulls are very tame and are a popular local tourist attraction.

A rare visitor to the United States, a black-tailed gull was spotted from Burlington, Vermont, in October 2005. Pictures from that sighting can be seen here

This article uses material from Wikipedia released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike Licence 3.0. Eventual photos shown in this page may or may not be from Wikipedia, please see the license details for photos in photo by-lines.

Scientific classification

Larus crassirostris

Common names

  • Thai: นกนางนวลหางดำ, nok naang nuan hang dam

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Distribution map of Black-tailed gull, Larus crassirostris in Thailand
  • Bang Pu Recreation Centre
  • Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
  • Laem Pak Bia
  • Mueang Samut Sakhon District, Samut Sakhon
  • Mueang Samut Songkhram District, Samut Songkhram
  • Pak Thale

Range map of Larus crassirostris in Thailand

Important note; our range maps are based on limited data we have collected. The data is not necessarily accurate or complete.

Special thanks to Ton Smits, Parinya Pawangkhanant, Ian Dugdale and many others for their contribution for range data.

Contribute or get help with ID

Please help us improving our species range maps. To add a new location to the range map we need a clear image of the specimen you have encountered. No problem if you do not know the species, we will do our best to identify it for you.

For the location, please provide the district name or the national park/ wildlife sanctuary name.

Please post your images to our Thai Species Identification Help group on Facebook.