- ORDER: Charadriiformes
- FAMILY: Laridae
The Glaucous-winged Gull is a large, pale gull of Pacific shorelines. It’s relatively easy to pick out from other gulls—most species have black wingtips, but adult Glaucous-winged Gulls have pearly gray wingtips that match the color of the rest of the back and upperwing. The only catch is that they often hybridize with Western, Glaucous, and Herring Gulls, complicating identification. These familiar birds of the Pacific Northwest coastlines forage on fish, tidepool inhabitants, and other foods along rocky shorelines, scavenge at landfills, and follow fishing vessels offshore.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Glaucous-winged Gulls are common year-round on coastlines from Alaska to Washington. Farther south, look for them during winter. They stay close to shorelines and rarely appear inland except at landfills. One way to find them is to look carefully through a mixed flock of gulls resting on the beach. At all ages, Glaucous-winged is distinguishable by the color match between its wingtips and upperparts. However, you’ll need some caution and close examination to completely rule out hybrid gulls, which can look very similar.
- Gaviota de Bering (Spanish)
- Goéland à ailes grises (French)
- Cool Facts
- Like most gulls, the Glaucous-winged Gull has a very broad diet. It eats everything from live animals to carrion and garbage. It sometimes attacks rabbits and pigeons, and may even prey on unattended Glaucous-winged Gull chicks.
- Gulls are notorious for hybridizing among species. Glaucous-winged Gulls hybridize extensively with Western Gulls, and in Washington State these hybrids are often more numerous than either of the parent species. The hybrids are so common they’re often given their own informal name, the "Olympic Gull."
- Hybrid Glaucous-winged x Western Gulls ("Olympic Gulls") usually have intermediate back and wingtip coloring. With the medium-gray back, dark upper side and frosty white underside of the wingtips, and darkish eye, these hybrids can look like a larger version of the "Thayer's" form of Iceland 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 oldest recorded Glaucous-winged Gull was at least 23 years, 10 months old. It was banded in British Columbia in 1977 and found in Washington in 2001.