Belcher's Gull

Larus belcheri




Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Brown to olive with brown and gray blotches

Number of Eggs:


Incubation Days:

28 - 30

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

On ground

Nest Material:

Leaves, moss and grasses.





Belcher's Gull: Formerly known as the Band-tailed Gull, a medium-sized gull native to South America and accidental in California and Florida. Breeding adult has a mostly white body with black back, distinctive black tail band, and yellow legs and feet. Wings are black with white trailing edges. Bill is yellow; lower mandible tipped with red, upper mandible tipped with black. Sexes are similar. Winter adult is similar but has a smoky brown head. 1st winter juvenile is heavily washed in brown, has dark tail band and dark feather centers on upperwings and back; legs and feet are tinted pink; bill is black tipped with dark red. 2nd winter juvenile resembles 1st winter but has more uniformly brown wing feathers, darker back, and pale yellow legs and feet.

Range and Habitat

Belcher's Gull: This species is native to the Pacific Coast of South America from Ecuador south to Chile. They occur accidentally near Baja California and the Gulf of Mexico near Florida. Preferred habitats include rocky or sandy seashore, shallow coastal habitats, tidal flats, mudflats and open sea.

Breeding and Nesting

Belcher's Gull: Lays 3 brown to olive eggs with brown and gray blotches in a nest on the ground lined with leaves, moss and grass. Incubated for 28 to 30 days by both sexes.

Foraging and Feeding

Belcher's Gull: Eats insects, small fish, crustaceans, marine worms, carrion and refuse. It gathers food in flight and forages while wading. Will also prey on eggs and chicks of guano-producing birds. Harrasses cormorants, forcing them to regurgiate their food. Does not follow ships.


Belcher's Gull: Not recorded

Similar Species

Belcher's Gull: Black-tailed gull has light yellow eyes, shorter legs, thinner bill and pale gray mantle and upperwings. Winter adult has gray brown smudge on head and nape.

Lower mandibleX
The lower part of the bill.
Upper mandibleX
The upper part of the bill.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X