This scarce gull breeds in colonies, nesting on the ground and laying up to three eggs. Like most gulls, it is gregarious in winter, both when feeding or in evening roosts. It is not a pelagic species, and is rarely seen at sea far from coasts.
This species is slightly larger than Black-headed Gull, which it resembles. It does not have a black hood. The head and dark red bill have an elongated tapering appearance, and this bird also appears long-necked. The legs are dark red, and the iris is yellow. In summer, the breast has a pink coloration.
This bird takes two years to reach maturity. First year birds have a black terminal tail band, and dark areas in the wings.