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Western Gull Life History


Habitat Oceans

  • Breeds on rocky islands.
  • Forages at sea, in intertidal areas, along beaches, and at dumps.
  • Roosts in fields, dumps, and parking lots.
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Food FishMarine invertebrates and fishes. Eggs and chicks of seabirds. Scavenges carrion and refuse.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Cliff

Nest Description

Nest is a scrape in the ground filled with vegetation, feathers, rope, plastic, or other items. Nests in colonies, often with other gull species.

Nesting Facts

Clutch Size:1-3 eggs
Egg Description:Light buff or greenish with dark blotching.
Condition at Hatching:Chicks semiprecocial at hatching; may leave nest cup at one day old. Covered in cryptically colored down.
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Behavior Ground ForagerCaptures food near surface of water or on shore. Steals food from cormorants and other gulls. Swallows large prey whole. Common at garbage dumps.Back to top


Conservation Low ConcernAlthough still common, Western Gull numbers declined from 1966 to 2015, particularly in the Northwest, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. This may be a result from the increased frequency of El Niño years that decrease or eliminate nest success. The North American Waterbird Conservation Plan estimates over 77,000 breeding birds in North America. Western Gull rates a 13 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, and is not listed on the 2016 State of North America's Birds' Watch List. However, because of its small population size and limited range, the species should be monitored. Back to top


Kushlan, J. A., M. J. Steinkamp, K. C. Parsons, J. Capp, M. A. Cruz, M. Coulter, I. Davidson, L. Dickson, N. Edelson, R. Elliott, R. M. Erwin, S. Hatch, S. Kress, R. Milko, S. Miller, K. Mills, R. Paul, R. Phillips, J. E. Saliva, W. Sydeman, J. Trapp, J. Wheeler and K. Wohl (2002). Waterbird conservation for the Americas: The North American waterbird conservation plan, version 1. Washington, DC, USA.

Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. (2019). Longevity records of North American birds. Version 1019 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2019.

Pierotti, Raymond J. and Cynthia A. Annett. (1995). Western Gull (Larus occidentalis), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Sauer, J. R., D. K. Niven, J. E. Hines, D. J. Ziolkowski Jr., K. L. Pardieck, J. E. Fallon, and W. A. Link (2017). The North American Breeding Bird Survey, Results and Analysis 1966–2015. Version 2.07.2017. USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD, USA.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, USA.

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