• Yellow-legged Gull 


Scientific name
Larus michahellis atlantis (Naumann, 1840)

Taxonomic Status
Endemic Subspecies of Macaronesia 

Red Data Book Status
Least Concern


    • Available tours to watch this bird 

Birding Full Day Trip | Desertas Island Expedition | Birding Introduction Trip

  • Identification

Adults have the upperparts light grey and white underparts. The wings have black tips and their legs are yellow. The bill has a well-marked red spot. The young birds are mottled brown with dark bill and pinkish legs.

  • Voice

The call of this species can be compared with a loud laugh.

  • Ecology

Populations may be dispersive or sedentary. Breeds in coastal areas and islets where they formed large colonies. The nest is constructed with the vegetation available nearby, feathers. Their diet consists of fish, invertebrates, reptiles, small mammal’s bird eggs and chicks, garbage and fishery discards.

  • Distribution

It is the only species of gull that breeds in Madeira archipelago being present in all the islands. The specie is represented by the atlantis subspecies that is endemic to Macaronesia. Its population is mainly concentrated on the Ilhéu do Desembarcadouro in Madeira island, Ilhéu Chão on the Desertas islands and ilhéu da Cal e de Cima on Porto Santo island.


That the red spot that some of the Gull species has, can be a sign of how healthy they are and how good their eggs will be. 

  • Yellow-legged Gull Sighting

Yellow Legged Gull - larus michahellis - Madeira Island

 Setembro 2013, Machico - Madeira Island © Birds & Company

 Yellow Legged Gull - larus michahellis - Madeira Island - Fagundes

 Madeira Island © AIFagundes

Yellow Legged Gull - larus michahellis - Lugar de baixo, Madeira Island

November 2011, Lugar de Baixo - Madeira Island © Roberto Moritz

  • Literature

[1] Equipa Atlas 2008. Atlas das Aves Nidificantes em Portugal (1999-2005). Instituto da Conservação da Natureza e da Biodiversidade, Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves, Parque Natural da Madeira e Secretaria Regional do Ambiente e do Mar. Assírio & Alvim. Lisboa. 

[2] Mullarney, Killian; Svensson, Lars; Zetterstrom, Dan; Grant, Peter (1999). Collins Bird Guide. London: Collins.

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


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