Kelp Gull

Larus dominicanus




Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Green blue or buff with purple or brown marks

Number of Eggs:

2 - 3

Incubation Days:

24 - 25

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

Grassy hollows, piles of grasses set in reeds, or on rock piles.

Nest Material:

Grasses and weeds.





Kelp Gull: Large and stocky gull with white head, underparts, and tail. Back is black and black upperwing has white trailing edge and one distinctive white spot on outer primary tip. Bill is yellow with a red spot near tip; eyes are yellow-gray with red orbital rings; legs and feet are yellow-green. Sexes are similar; winter adult resembles breeding adult. Juvenile is brown mottled overall with a black bill and pink legs and feet. 2nd summer has white head, neck and underparts, gray-brown wings and a dark gray mantel; bill is yellow with a white tip and red spot near the tip on lower mandible.

Range and Habitat

Kelp Gull: Widespread along coasts and on islands throughout the Southern Hemisphere, occurring in southern Africa, Madagascar, Australia, New Zealand, South America and the Falkland Islands, as well as on Antarctica and many sub-Antarctic islands. Found in a variety of habitats including harbors, bays, inlets, estuaries, beaches and rocky shores. Accidental in Maryland.

Breeding and Nesting

Kelp Gull: Monogamous; colonial. Sometimes nests and hybridizes with Herring Gulls. Nest built by both sexes, in grassy hollows, in reeds, or on piles of rocks; two to three green blue or buff eggs marked with purple or brown; incubation ranges from 24 to 25 days and is carried out by both sexes. One brood per year.

Foraging and Feeding

Kelp Gull: Feeds in small groups or flocks at sea near coast and along shore; also estuaries, harbors, islands, inland rivers and lakes. Not pelagic. Takes food from water or land. Eats small fish, crustaceans, rodents, insects, and young of other birds. Also eats carrion and offal.


Kelp Gull: Harsh "kee-ooch." Repeated ""kwee-ah, kwee-ah, kwee-ah."

Similar Species

Kelp Gull: Great Black-backed Gull is larger with pink legs and feet and more white in wing tips. Smaller Lesser Black-backed Gull has dark gray underwings.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Lower mandibleX
The lower part of the bill.
The pelagic is a type of bird whose habitat is on the open ocean rather than in a coastal region or on inland bodies of water (lakes, rivers). An example of a pelagic bird is the blacklegged kittiwake.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X