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Merlin Bird ID

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    California Gull

    Silhouette GullsGulls

    California Gull

    Larus californicus
    • ORDER: Charadriiformes
    • FAMILY: Laridae
    Basic Description

    Gulls are often thought of as coastal birds, but California Gulls are also common in inland areas in the West. These medium-sized gulls breed in colonies on islands and levees in lakes and rivers. You'll also spot them in pastures, scrublands, and garbage dumps as they often forage miles from the colony, eating everything they can find from mayflies to garbage. In the winter they head to the coast where they cruise up and down the shoreline with other gulls.

    More ID Info
    image of range map for California GullRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

    Find This Bird

    In the summer, look for California Gulls breeding along inland lakes and rivers, as well as foraging in pastures or parking lots. In the winter they move to the coast where they spend time bathing, drinking, and resting near fresh water. Look for a rivermouth along the coast to find a roosting site. Here you will likely find several gull species, making it easier to judge size and study plumage. Look for a medium-sized gull with yellowish legs and a medium gray back. In flight, look for their deeper and quicker wingbeats than larger gulls, like Herring Gulls, but slower and shallower beats than smaller gulls, like Ring-billed Gulls.

    Other Names
    • Gaviota Californiana (Spanish)
    • Goéland de Californie (French)
    • Cool Facts