California Gull

Larus californicus




Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Olive buff with dark gray and brown blotches.

Number of Eggs:

2 - 3

Incubation Days:

23 - 27

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

On ground.

Nest Material:

Twigs, dried feathers, bits of debris, grass, and weeds.





California Gull: Moderately large gull with white body, gray wings and black wing tips. Bill is yellow with diagnostic red and black spot near tip of bill. Legs are yellow; eye is dark with red orbital ring. Sexes are similar. Winter adult develops brown streaks on back of head and nape. Juvenile is mottled gray-brown overall with dark wing tips, pink legs and black bill that becomes pink-based during first winter; back turns pale gray, underparts lighten and legs turn yellow-green by second winter.

Range and Habitat

California Gull: Breeds in northern Prairie Provinces east to North Dakota, south to Colorado and Utah, and west to northeastern California. In breeding season, preferred habitats include interior lakes and marshes, while in winter, are found mostly on the coast. Spends winters mainly on the coast from Oregon southward, in lesser numbers inland.

Breeding and Nesting

California Gull: The breeding season occurs from May to July. Once a pair has formed and the nest is being assembled, egg laying begins. Two or three dark gray and brown blotched olive buff eggs are laid in a nest made of grass, dead weeds and sticks. They nest in large colonies, usually on islands in shallow inland lakes. Incubation ranges from 23 to 27 days and is done by both parents.

Foraging and Feeding

California Gull: These gulls are opportunistic feeders. They feed on insects, fish, the eggs and young of other birds, small mammals, worms, spiders, refuse and carrion. They forage in open areas, farmland, marshes, meadows, garbage dumps, parks, streams and rivers. They visit fresh water to drink many times during the day, often both before and after feeding forays.


California Gull: Emits a repetitive "kee-yah."

Similar Species

California Gull: Adult Herring Gull is larger, has pink legs, yellow iris, paler back, and slightly thicker yellow bill with a more pronounced spot on lower mandible. 1st winter Herring Gull has entirely black bill, only show contrasting secondaries in flight, and lack contrasting greater secondary coverts. Adult Mew Gull is smaller with unmarked yellow bill.


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

Also called the hindneck or collar, it is the back of the neck where the head joins the body.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X