Black-tailed Gull

The black-tailed gull is one of the most common seagulls in Japan. It is about 47 cm in length and has a wingspan reaching 120 cm. The black-tailed gull has a grey back and upper wings, white plumage from the head to the belly, and a yellow bill with an eye-catching red and black dot. The tail is white, with a black band near the tip. The bird got its Japanese name umineko (“sea cat”) from its cat-like call.
Here in the Oki Islands, around 300 black-tailed gulls breed collectively on Hirajima Island in the Fuse area of Okinoshima Town, and during migration season, their calls echo through the fishing ports. The birds usually fly to Hirajima Island every year in December, raise their young during spring, and leave for the northern seas in July. They often prey on small fish that swim near the surface of the sea when chased by larger fish. Fishermen called such behavior toriyama (“bird hill”) and relied on it for fishing in the past.

  • Scientific Name

    Larus crassirostris

  • Classification

    Family Laridae

  • Migratory Classification

    Resident bird across Japan; winter or summer bird in the Oki Islands with some breeding