The sea birds that fly over the capital… seagulls, gulls, and cormorants:

If some of these species settled in Paris during winter have gone up the rivers to find a little more warmth, other gulls are returning from a long journey started in the Scandinavian countries.

From July to mid-March, Paris counts up to 5000 gulls according to the LPO, mainly black-headed gulls and nearly a hundred pairs of gulls. Coming from the North Sea and Brittany, herring gulls take advantage of the warmth of the roofs in the city, similar to those created by the cliffs of their original maritime location. If they usually feed at sea, they can find plenty of food in the city to get under their beaks without difficulty.

After a warmer winter in the capital, these colonies return to their birthplace, a territory more conducive to reproduction and with food more abundant in insects. Some species, such as the Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, and Black-headed Gull, can, however, spend the whole year in Paris.

Where are gulls found in Paris?

During the day, these seabirds are usually found on the barges of the Seine and the canals, as well as the lakes of the two woods of the City of Paris. That said, a ringed gull is regularly spotted in the Jardin des Tuileries!

At nightfall, these birds land in “winter dormitories,” sheltered from predators such as foxes, weasels, cats, and dogs. On Le Point du Jour, near the Garigliano bridge, or along the Seine towards Ivry, they gather at night, in shoals, on moored barges: they can be up to 2000! These seabirds also enjoy the nights at the Boulevard Victor et Javel (15th) as well as the Garigliano bridge on the high barges. In the 13th arrondissement, about a hundred of them spend the night on the side of the Pont d’Austerlitz, opposite the Jardin des Grands-Moulins.

How do you recognize a black-headed gull from a herring gull?

These two species belong to the same family, that of the Laridae, coastal birds that also live inland. Their French name “mouettel” comes from the old French word “miau” which means meow, which probably evokes its cry. The French name “goéland” comes from the Breton “gwell” or “gwellan” meaning “weeping bird,” again a reference to the cry. Herring gulls can be recognized by their large white heads, large, powerful, yellow and red-spotted beaks, flesh-pink legs, and yellow irises.

What do cormorants do in Paris?

They are the great cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo) found in the capital in autumn and winter. Often perched on trees, they have an ideal observation point on the Seine and the canals. Raise your head to find them on top of trees such as poplars. Swan Island, in the 15th century, is home to great cormorants, of which there are nearly a hundred or so who spend the winter in Paris. Very rare during the summer season, these fish eaters go to their nesting sites outside the capital to breed.