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Gulls, Seagulls

Information, biology of different species and pictures of seagulls.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Suborder: Lari
Family: Laridae

The Gull or Seagull is a medium to large bird usually gray or white and often has black marking on its head and wings. It has a long bill and webbed feet.  Gulls are ground nesting birds.  They are found in coastal areas and rarely stray far from land.  These highly intelligent birds have learned to co-exist successfully with humans.  They eat live crabs and small fish and are often times scavengers. 
Several different species of seagulls are described in this article:

Heermann’s Gull    Common Gull, Mew Gull    Herring Gull    Glaucous-winged Gull    

Ring-Billed Gull    California Gull    Great Black-backed Gull     Western Gull    

Seagulls as Pests    Seagull Pictures 

Heermann’s Gull 

There are many differences between the several species found throughout North America.  Heermann’s Gull is found mostly on the Isla Rasa off Baja California in the Gulf of California.  After breeding season they move to central California and south to Guatemala.  Heermann’s Gull is distinctly different from other gulls.  They have gray bodies, blackish-gray wings and tail and a red bill with a black tip.  Its head is gray when not breeding and white when it is.  Two to three eggs that are grayish with gray and brown markings are laid in nests on the ground.  Heermann’s Gulls often socialize with brown pelicans and steals food them when possible.  This gull is a near threatened species and has been protected since 1964.  Picture of Heermann's Gull

Common Gull or Mew Gull 

The Common Gull can be found in Europe and Asia and the north western United States, where it is called the Mew Gull.  Smaller than the Herring Gull, it breeds near water or in marshes with it nest on the ground or in a tree.  Its gray top feathers, white head and breast, greenish legs and black wing tips identify the common gull.  There are two other subspecies of the common gull; the Kamchatka Gull found in eastern Eurasia and the Short-Billed Gull found in Alaska and Western Canada.

Herring Gull 

The Herring Gull has one of the most recognized laughing calls in the Northern Hemisphere.  This large gull breeds across North America, Europe and Asia.  They are abundant around inland garbage dumps and have adapted to life within cities.  They scavenge for food and seek small prey in fields and on the coast. 
Similar to the Ring- Billed Gull, the Herring Gull is much larger, and is identified by its pale gray back, pink legs and thick yellow bill with a red spot.  Gulls in their first winter are a brownish color, and once they enter their second and third winters, their colors become softer.  The adult female lays three eggs on the ground or in cliff ledges.  They live in colonies and defend their nests vigorously.   Herring Gull Picture

Ring-Billed Gull 

The Ring-Billed Gull is identified by its white head, neck and under parts.  It has a short yellow bill with dark ring, silver gray back and wings, yellow legs and yellow eyes.  They breed near lakes, rivers and on the coast and are found in Canada and the northern United States.  They nest in colonies on the ground often on islands and attend to the same nesting sites year after year. 
The ring-billed gull is a migratory bird that travels south to the Gulf of Mexico and to the Atlantic and pacific coasts of North America and along the great lakes.  They forge for food in flight and are able to pick up objects while swimming, walking and wading.  They eat insects, fish, grain, eggs, earthworms, rodents and food left over by humans. In the late 19th century the ring-billed gull was hunted for its feathers.  Ring-Billed Gull Picture

California Gull    

The California Gull is smaller than the Herring gull but larger than the Ring-billed gull.  It has a black ring around its 
yellow bill, yellow legs, brown eyes and a more rounded head than the herring gull.  The California gull has black wings with white tips, and a gray back and gray upper wings.  They breed in lakes and marshes of western North America and nest in colonies with other birds.  Their nest is a shallow depression on the ground lined with vegetation and feathers.  The adult female lays two to three eggs, that when hatched are fed by both parents.
The California gull is a migratory bird, traveling to the Pacific coast during the winter.  They forage while in flight and eat insects, fish and eggs. They also scavenge at garbage dumps and docks and follow plows in fields for stirred up insects.
The California gull is the state bird of Utah.  They are remembered for assisting the Mormon settlers in dealing with a plague of crickets.  A seagull monument was erected in Salt Lake City to commemorate the event which is called the “Miracle of the Gulls.”  California Gull picture.

Great Black-backed Gull  

The largest of all gulls is the Great Black-backed Gull.  It breeds on European and North American coasts and islands off the North Atlantic.  Adults are identified by their black wings and back, white wing tips, pinkish legs and a red spot on its yellow bill.  Young great black-backed gulls are a scaly black brown color.  They breed in small colonies making their nest on the ground on top of rocks.  They scavenge for small prey and rob other seabirds of their food. This gull can swallow a small wild duck whole.  Picture of Great Black-backed Gull

Glaucous-winged Gull 

The Glaucous-winged Gull lives off the coast of Alaska south to the coast of Washington.  Identified by its white head, neck, breast and belly, this gull has a white tail, grayish wing and back and white tipped wings.  It also has pink legs, a flat forehead and a red spot on its yellow beak.  The Glaucous-winged gull is rarely found far from saltwater.  It feeds along the coast scavenging for dead or weak squid, fish, mussels and human garbage.
Glaucous-winged Gull picture

Western Gull

The Western Gull is recognized as one of the antagonists in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds.”  Its large white head and gray wings identify the Western Gull.  It has a red spot on its yellow bill that is used by chicks to peck at to stimulate feeding.  Exclusively a marine gull, the western gull is seldom inland and nests on offshore islands and rocks.  Found on the western coast of North America from Washington and British Columbia to Baja California, it is also found on Alcatraz Island.
They eat fish and invertebrates like squid and jellyfish.  It cannot dive and feeds on the surface of the water. The western gull will feed on seal and sea lion carcasses, snails, cockles and limpets. They also feet at landfills and take food from people at beaches.  Picture of Western Gull

Gulls as Pests

Gulls are common at dumpsites, harbors, and piers and around fishing boats.  They are hazardous to low flying aircrafts.  Structural damage can be caused from the buildup of gull droppings and from the uric acid contained in the droppings.  As a pest, gulls attack people and pets for food and when protecting their young.  They pick at roofing materials to build their nests and block gutters with their nests holding moisture against the structure.

Controlling Large Seagull Populations

Best results have been seen when the Super BirdXPeller Pro is set up in areas where seagulls congregate, foraging for food.  To keep seagulls from stealing food from people in open, public areas or to keep airports safe from gulls known to be sucked into jet engines (often causing engine failure and sometimes causing plane crashes), use one Super BirdXPeller Pro to cover up to 6 acres.  Multiple units (when size of area demands) should be set up to slightly over-lap each other, for best results.