While hiking around the Dingli Cliffs, you can encounter seagulls gliding through the sky often followed by their distinctive and loud squawking voice. The specie in question is the yellow-legged gull (Larus michahellis, maltese: Gawwija prima), the largest breeding bird in the Maltese Islands with their wingspan can reach up to 1.5 meters. It is nesting in a small number of colonies around the islands, mostly on remote cliffs. Their main stronghold is the distant islet of Filfla where around 200 pairs live along with shearwaters and petrels, but the lower Dingli Cliffs which is their main colony in Malta, also home to about 50 pairs which number is constantly monitored by ornithologists and is a stable population for decades. During the day they fly around the islands in search for food. They are omnivores consuming both plants and smaller animals. They often scavenge landfills and leftovers from the fish farms but also robbing other birds of their catches.
They lay their eggs from March to May in a makeshift nest on the ground. The eggs are then incubated for 27-31 days and the young birds fledge after 35-40 days. The juveniles have a greyish colour in their first year.
The yellow-legged gull is protected by law and their numbers are slowly increasing, colonising new habitats such as on Comino or St.Paul’s island.