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Glaucous-winged Gull

Larus glaucescens ORDER: CHARADRIIFORMES FAMILY: LARIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A large gull of the north Pacific Coast, the Glaucous-winged Gull is common in coastal cities and towns. Its wingtips are colored unlike any other gull's, being neither black nor white. Instead, they are a medium gray, not much different from the back color.

Bird Festivals
Big Day 2014

At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
19.7–23.2 in
50–59 cm
Wingspan
47.2–56.3 in
120–143 cm
Weight
31.7–42.3 oz
900–1200 g
Other Names
  • Goéland à ailes grises (French)
  • Gaviota de alas glaucas (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The Glaucous-winged Gull takes a variety of food, including live animals in addition to carrion and garbage. It has been known to kill and eat rabbits and pigeons, as well as Glaucous-winged Gull chicks. Older birds are more efficient at finding food than younger birds.
  • The Glaucous-winged Gull hybridizes extensively with the Western Gull, with the hybrids being the most common form in Washington. The hybrids can be similar to the parent adult forms, but usually have intermediate back and wingtip coloring. With the medium-gray back, dark upper surface to wingtips, frosty white undersurface to wingtips, and a darkish eye, a hybrid may closely resemble a robust Thayer's Gull. The flatter and larger head of the hybrid, and especially the thick bill with a pronounced angle on the bottom, should help distinguish it from the smaller, slimmer Thayer's Gull.
  • The Glaucous-winged Gull nests on roofs of buildings in some areas. They prefer to nest on flat roofs, but will nest on peaked roofs in flat areas near chimneys or other structures.

Habitat


Shore-line

Breeds on rocky islands and coastal cliffs, sometimes on flat roofs of buildings. Forages at sea, in intertidal areas, along beaches, and at dumps. Roosts in fields, dumps, and parking lots.

Food


Omnivore

Marine invertebrates and fishes. Eggs and chicks of seabirds. Scavenges carrion and refuse.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
1–4 eggs
Egg Description
Light greenish marked with dark scrawls.
Condition at Hatching
Chicks semiprecocial at hatching; may leave nest cup at one day old. Covered in cryptically colored down.
Nest Description

Nest is a scrape in the ground filled with grass, weeds, moss, roots, dead twigs, string, bones, turf, and seaweed. Nests in colonies, often with other gull species.

Nest Placement

Cliff

Behavior


Ground Forager

Captures food near surface of water or on shore. Steals food from cormorants and other gulls. Swallows large prey whole. Common at garbage dumps.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Numbers increased markedly in last 50 years.

Credits

    1. Sibley, D. A. 2000. National Audubon Society: The Sibley Guide to Birds. A. A. Knopf, Inc., New York.
    2. Verbeek, N. A. M. 1993. Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens). In The Birds of North America, No. 59 (A. Poole, and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Range Map Help

Glaucous-winged Gull Range Map
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