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California Gull

Larus californicus

Length: 22 inches Wingspan: 48 inches Seasonality: Summer / Migrant
ID Keys: Dark eyes, black and red spots on bill tip, greenish-yellow legs, gray back and upper wings, white underparts, white head and neck.  Compare to very similar Ring-Billed Gull and Herring Gull.

California Gull - Larus californicusA widespread gull of the western half of the United States, spending its summers in the interior and its winters along the Pacific Coast.  The California Gull is what inspired the seagull monument in Salt Lake City, as it was the species that saved crops from the 1848 grasshopper plague.  It is very similar to the Ring-Billed Gull and Herring Gull, and is intermediate in size between the two. 

Habitat: Summers near large freshwater lakes and reservoirs.  Often forages in dryland fields and farms for insects.  Winters primarily along coastlines, especially near beaches and garbage dumps. 

Diet: Wide variety of items, including insects, fish, eggs and young birds, small mammals, earthworms, crustaceans, small lizards, frogs, carrion, and refuse.

Behavior: Will use almost any technique for foraging, from swimming in open water, wading in shallow water, walking on land, or foraging while in flight.

Nesting: June and July

Song: California Gull Song

Migration: Summers near in the interior west of the United States and Canada.  Winters along the Pacific coast and selected locations in the far West.

Interactive eBird Map: Click to access an interactive eBird map of California Gull sightings

Similar Species: Ring-Billed Gull, Herring Gull, Mew Gull.  See Identification Tips.

Conservation Status: Has increased numbers and range in recent decades.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, California Gull

2) Audubon Guide - California Gull

3) WhatBird- California Gull

Photo Information: July 18th, 2004 -- Below Oahe Dam -- Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution California Gull photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
California Gull - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Rare migrant.  Uncommon and local summer breeding resident in the northeast and select spots on the Missouri River.

Additional California Gull Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
 California Gull - Larus californicusCalifornia Gull - Larus californicus