Both these types of birds are known as gulls but their ecology and behaviour are quite different. There are also differences in the way the law applies to them so it is important to differentiate between the two species.
The RSPB website provides useful information about how to tell the two types of species apart.
These are small, delicate gulls which only return to land long enough to nest and raise their chicks. Identifying features:
- their plumage is similar to Herring Gulls apart from the all black tips to their wing (as if dipped in ink)
- the bill is yellow but their feet and legs are black – this is in contrast to all other species of gulls
- a distinctive cry which sounds like “kittie-wa-ake”
- they do not take human food or waste
- they are not associated with behaviours such as swooping at humans unless they feel their nests or chicks are at risk
Kittiwakes nest on window and building ledges but only in certain places in Scarborough – between Spa Bridge and Sandside. Their nests may only be removed in the winter when the birds are away.
These are large, vocal gulls that live all year round in coastal towns, usually nesting on chimney pots and rooftops. Identifying features:
- mostly white with grey wings and back
- pink legs and feet with a yellow hooked bill with a prominent red spot – young birds are mottled brown
- they are territorial and very protective of their offspring
- they are quick to take other food sources such as food waste in litter bins
- they are associated with ‘gull muggings’ when the birds swoop down at or near people to take food they have spotted
We are working with businesses and the general public to try and combat the gulls’ aggressive behaviour, especially in the spring and summer seasons, when they seek out food to feed their young.