Photo: Christy Haynes/Audubon Photography Awards

Glaucous-winged Gull

Larus glaucescens

The typical large gull of the northern Pacific Coast, nesting mainly from southern Alaska to Washington. Common all along the Pacific Coast in winter, it very rarely strays any distance inland. Part of a complex of closely related forms, it interbreeds freely with Western Gull at the southern end of its range, and often with Herring Gull and Glaucous Gull in Alaska.
Conservation status Has been steadily increasing in numbers in recent decades. Since it is a predator on eggs and young, its increase may cause problems for populations of other coastal bird species.
Family Gulls and Terns
Habitat Primarily coastal. Most common around bays, estuaries, beaches, rocky shorelines. Visits fresh ponds and garbage dumps near coast. Sometimes far offshore over continental shelf, well out of sight of land. Very rare around inland lakes and rivers. Nests mainly on low, flat islands.
The typical large gull of the northern Pacific Coast, nesting mainly from southern Alaska to Washington. Common all along the Pacific Coast in winter, it very rarely strays any distance inland. Part of a complex of closely related forms, it interbreeds freely with Western Gull at the southern end of its range, and often with Herring Gull and Glaucous Gull in Alaska.
Photo Gallery
  • adults, breeding
  • juvenile
  • immature (1st winter)
  • immature (2nd year)
  • immature (3rd winter)
  • adult, winter
  • adult,breeding
Feeding Behavior

Forages while walking or swimming, or may plunge into water from flight. May drop hard-shelled clams and crabs onto rocks while in flight to break them open. Associates with feeding bears and other predators to pick up scraps they leave behind.


Eggs

2-3, sometimes 1-4. Olive to yellow-green, marked with scrawls and blotches of brown and gray. Incubation is by both sexes, 26-29 days. Young: Downy young may leave nest 2 days after hatching, remain in vicinity. Both parents feed young. Age at first flight 37-53 days after hatching; leave colony about 2 weeks later on average.


Young

Downy young may leave nest 2 days after hatching, remain in vicinity. Both parents feed young. Age at first flight 37-53 days after hatching; leave colony about 2 weeks later on average.

Diet

Omnivorous. Diet includes fish, limpets, chitons, clams, mussels, sea urchins, barnacles, crabs, squid. Also smaller birds, eggs, small mammals, some plant material. Scavenges refuse in garbage dumps, and eats carrion.


Nesting

First breeds at age of 4 years or older. Breeds in colonies, often densely packed. Nest site is on ground, sometimes on cliff or roof. Nest (built by both sexes) is a shallow scrape lined with grass, moss, seaweed, debris. Pair may begin building several nests, but complete only one.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Present all year in much of range, but some withdrawal in winter from northernmost areas in western Alaska. Many disperse well to the south in winter, reaching northwestern Mexico. Very rare migrant inland.

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Migration

Present all year in much of range, but some withdrawal in winter from northernmost areas in western Alaska. Many disperse well to the south in winter, reaching northwestern Mexico. Very rare migrant inland.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
A raucous series of similar notes on one pitch; also soft ga-ga notes when an intruder approaches.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.

How climate change could affect this bird's range

In the broadest and most detailed study of its kind, Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change.

Learn more

Read more: climate.audubon.org
Gulls and Terns Gull-like Birds

Glaucous-winged Gull

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season.

More on reading these maps.

Each map is a visual guide to where a particular bird species may find the climate conditions it needs to survive in the future. We call this the bird’s “climatic range.”

The colors indicate the season in which the bird may find suitable conditions— blue for winter, yellow for summer (breeding), and green for where they overlap (indicating their presence year-round).

The darker the shaded area, the more likely it is the bird species will find suitable climate conditions to survive there.

The outline of the approximate current range for each season remains fixed in each frame, allowing you to compare how the range will expand, contract, or shift in the future.

The first frame of the animation shows where the bird can find a suitable climate today (based on data from 2000). The next three frames predict where this bird’s suitable climate may shift in the future—one frame each for 2020, 2050, and 2080.

You can play or pause the animation with the orange button in the lower left, or select an individual frame to study by clicking on its year.

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season. More on reading these maps.
Winter
Summer

Winter Range
Summer Range
Both Seasons
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