Herring Gull

Larus argentatus




Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Green, gray, blue or brown with dark streaks.

Number of Eggs:

2 - 3

Incubation Days:

23 - 27

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

On ground.

Nest Material:

Lined with plant material.





Herring Gull: Large gull with pale gray back and wings with black tips and white head, neck and breast. Bill is yellow with red spot near tip; legs are pink. Sexes are similar. Winter adult has duller bill and gray-brown streaks on head and neck. Juvenile is brown with dark-barred rump and tail and has black bill and legs. First winter and Second winter have pale brown heads, necks, upper breasts and bellies, black tails and black-tipped pink bills. Third winter resembles winter adult but has black tipped bill.

Range and Habitat

Herring Gull: Breeds from Alaska east across northern Canada to Maritime Provinces, south to British Columbia, north-central Canada, and Great Lakes, and along Atlantic coast to North Carolina. Winters in all but its northernmost breeding areas and from southern Alaska to Baja California. Nests on open beaches, islands, or shorelines; stays on lakes, wetlands, rivers, and landfills.

Breeding and Nesting

Herring Gull: These gulls are almost always monogamous. Pairs are formed on the male's territory or in loafing areas. Two to three gray, green, blue, or brown eggs with brown, lavender and black streaks are laid in a shallow ground scrape lined with plants and sticks. Incubation ranges from 23 to 27 days and is carried out by both parents.

Foraging and Feeding

Herring Gull: Their diet includes marine invertebrates, fish, insects, carrion, human refuse and other seabirds. They are opportunistic scavengers and capture prey by walking along the shore at low tide, dipping from the surface or shallow plunge diving. Small prey items are swallowed whole; large prey items are broken up and eaten in situ, or dropped on rock or sand substrates to break open.


Herring Gull: Makes a loud, rollicking call, "kuk-kuk-kuk", "yucca-yucca-yucca", or other raucous cries.

Similar Species

Herring Gull: California Gull is smaller, has yellow legs, dark eyes, darker back, and thinner yellow bill. Ring-billed Gull is much smaller, has yellow legs, and a complete black ring on the bill.

The upper front part of a bird.
The area between the uppertail coverts and the back of the bird.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X