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Herring Gull

Larus argentatus ORDER: CHARADRIIFORMES FAMILY: LARIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Spiraling above a fishing boat or squabbling at a dock or parking lot, Herring Gulls are the quintessential gray-and-white, pink-legged "seagulls." They're the most familiar gulls of the North Atlantic and can be found across much of coastal North America in winter. A variety of plumages worn in their first four years can make identification tricky—so begin by learning to recognize their beefy size and shape.

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Look for Herring Gulls soaring along coastal shorelines, feeding on beaches, or squabbling at refuse dumps. Almost any large open space near water can become a winter hangout. Except along the north Atlantic Coast, the Great Lakes, and southern Alaskan coast, expect to see only nonbreeding adults and a motley array of immature gulls. These may be hard to recognize at first until you learn their beefy profiles. Once you know this fairly common species, they can help you identify other gull species.

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