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9 inches. Adult in summer plumage shows short, thin, black bill, short, rounded wings, black head extending onto upper neck, white nape, neck, breast, belly, and tail, pale grey back and upperwings, dark grey underwings, red legs. Adult in winter is similar to summer but with black hood strongly reduced.
Juvenile has wings more pointed than adult, there is a dark "M" on the upper surface consisting of middle coverts and outermost primaries, and the underside of the wing is white. There is a dark band at the tip of the tail. It takes about three years to reach full adult plumage, with gradual changes lightening the upperside of the wings and darkening the flight feathers before darkening the coverts on the underside of the wings.
 Similar Species
Ross's Gull is slightly larger with usually at least part of the dark collar, gray wingtips (adult), shorter stubby bill, and longer primary projection.
Breeds in Canada, central and southern Finland and the Swedish islands of Oland and Gotland, the Baltic States, Belarus, the northern Ukraine and across Russia to about 55E. Also breeds in very small numbers or sporadically elsewhere in north and east Europe including Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark and Poland.
Migratory, juveniles leave breeding grounds July-September followed by adults in October-November.
Winters in the Gulfs of Bothnia and Finland and the Baltic, the coasts of east and southern British Isles (scarce) and from Denmark to Spain. In the Mediterranean occurs in the north from Gibraltar to the Middle East and off North-West Africa and also winters in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov. Spring return movement in March-May. Passage is both coastal and inland and migrants can be seen across much of Britain and mainland Europe.
Lowland freshwaters, river deltas and valleys, swamps, marshes and beside lakes.
Somewhat similar to a Black Tern in summer both in choice of overgrown marches for breeding and in often plucking food off the surface of water through repeated dives.
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