Return to Main Page   Dakota Birder Blog    

Mew Gull

Larus canus

Length: 16 to 18 inches Wingspan: 42 inches Seasonality: Rare Visitor
ID Keys: Yellow unmarked bill, greenish-yellow legs, white spots in wing tips
Mew Gull - Larus canus

A rare visitor to the state, the Mew Gull can be differentiated from similar gulls by the lack of any spots on its bill and its relatively small size.  The name comes from the cat-like call it often gives.  Other races of the Mew Gull are common in Eurasia.

Habitat: Most often found around wooded lakes and rivers when on its summer breeding grounds.  In winter, found along the Pacific coastline, especially near river mouths and brackish lagoons.

Diet: Omnivorous.  Primary diet is often dependent upon season and location.  Common food items, include fish, crustaceans, mollusks, insects, earthworms, small rodents, young birds and eggs, berries, grain, carrion, and refuse.

Behavior: Will use a wide variety of foraging techniques, including walking along the ground or in shallow water, swimming, or dipping down to the water's surface while in flight.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota

Song: Repeated Kee-ya or cat-like Mee-you

Migration: Summers throughout Northwestern Canada and Alaska.  Winters along the Pacific Coast.  Rarely migrates inland south of its breeding range, and is thus a rare visitor to South Dakota.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here for an interactive eBird map of Mew Gull sightings

Similar Species: Ring-Billed Gull, California Gull

Conservation Status: Numbers appear to be stable throughout their normal range.

Further Information: 1) Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Mew Gull

2) BirdWeb - Mew Gull

3) Audubon Guide - Mew Gull

Photo Information: June 24th, 2006 -- Near Anchorage, Alaska -- Terry Sohl

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


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Mew Gull - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Accidental visitor to South Dakota, with most sightings around Missouri River reservoirs.

Additional Mew Gull Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
 Mew Gull - Larus canusMew Gull - Larus canusMew Gull - Larus canusMew Gull - Larus canusMew Gull - Larus canus