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Description of the Glaucous-winged Gull

BREEDING MALE

The Glaucous-winged Gull is a large gull with pale gray upperparts, white underparts, a yellow bill with a red spot, and no black in the wingtips. White head in breeding plumage.  Length: 26 in.  Wingspan: 58 in.

glaucous winged gull 3 across gl gb
Photograph © Greg Lavaty.

 

glaucous winged gull 3 down ew gl gb
Photograph © Elaine Wilson.

Female

Same as male.

Seasonal change in appearance

Winter adults have brown barring on the head and neck.

Juvenile

Brown overall, with a dark bill. Becomes progressively more similar to adults over a four-year period.

Habitat

Coastal areas.

Diet

Fish, clams, and other marine life, as well as insects, eggs, and refuse.

Behavior

Forages while walking, swimming, or in flight.

Range

Resident along the northwestern coast of North America, and winters along all of the West Coast.

More information:

Bent Life History

Visit the Bent Life History for extensive additional information on the Glaucous-winged Gull.

Wing Shape

The shape of a bird's wing is often an indication of its habits and behavior. Fast flying birds have long, pointed wings. Soaring birds have long, broad wings. Different songbirds will have a slightly different wing shape. Some species look so much alike (Empidonax flycatchers) that scientists sometimes use the length of specific feathers to confirm a species' identification.

Wing images from the University of Puget Sound, Slater Museum of Natural History

Fun Facts

Glaucous-winged Gull pairs often remain together for many years.

Glaucous-winged Gulls are known to hybridize with Western, Herring, and Glaucous Gulls.

Vocalizations

A “kjau” call is commonly given, but yelps and “ka-ka-ka” calls are given as well.

Nesting

The nest is a scrape lined with grass, moss, or seaweed and is placed on the ground or a cliff.

Number: 2-3.
Color: Olive or buff with darker markings.


Incubation and fledging:
- Young hatch at 26-29 days.  
- Young fledge (leave the nest) in 37-53 days after hatching but remain with the adults for some time.