Photo: George Armistead/Vireo

Kelp Gull

Larus dominicanus

Native to coastlines of the southern hemisphere, this big gull was a shock to birders when it began showing up in North America in the late 1980s. From 1989 into the 1990s, several adults were present on the Chandeleur Islands, in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. A few pairs even nested there, and other Kelp Gulls interbred with Herring Gulls on the islands, producing hybrids. During the 1990s, a few Kelp Gulls wandered elsewhere in North America, including Texas, Maryland, and Indiana, and there have been scattered records since then. “Pure” Kelp Gulls may not occur on the Chandeleur Islands any more, but some apparent hybrids are still wandering in the Gulf of Mexico.
Family Gulls and Terns
Native to coastlines of the southern hemisphere, this big gull was a shock to birders when it began showing up in North America in the late 1980s. From 1989 into the 1990s, several adults were present on the Chandeleur Islands, in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. A few pairs even nested there, and other Kelp Gulls interbred with Herring Gulls on the islands, producing hybrids. During the 1990s, a few Kelp Gulls wandered elsewhere in North America, including Texas, Maryland, and Indiana, and there have been scattered records since then. “Pure” Kelp Gulls may not occur on the Chandeleur Islands any more, but some apparent hybrids are still wandering in the Gulf of Mexico.
Photo Gallery
  • adult
  • immature (first year)



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

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Songs and Calls
The call is a strident ki-och.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.