Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
Photo: Byron Chin/Flickr Creative Commons
|Conservation status||Has increased in many areas during recent decades.|
|Family||Gulls and Terns|
|Habitat||Seacoasts, lakes, farms, urban centers. Breeds in the interior at lakes and marshes, often foraging for insects around farms, plowed fields. Some winter inland around major lakes and rivers, but most are coastal at that season, frequenting beaches, docks, garbage dumps, fields. Sometimes common well offshore in winter.|
Forages while walking, wading, swimming, or flying. May hover and dip down to pick items from surface of land or water. Sometimes follows plow in farm fields to pick up insects exposed in the furrows.
2-3, sometimes 1-5. Clutches of more than 3 result from 2 females laying in same nest. Eggs brown, olive, gray, or buff, blotched with dark brown or gray. Incubation is by both parents, 23-27 days. Young: May leave nest when a few days old, but remain in immediate area. Both parents feed young, by regurgitation. Young can fly at about 45 days after hatching.
May leave nest when a few days old, but remain in immediate area. Both parents feed young, by regurgitation. Young can fly at about 45 days after hatching.
Varied, includes insects, fish, eggs, refuse. Summer diet inland is mostly insects; also worms, spiders, rodents, eggs and young of other birds, and carrion. On coast, eats fish and other marine life, also scavenges for refuse around garbage dumps, fishing piers.
Breeds in colonies, sometimes very large, and sometimes mixed with Ring-billed Gulls or other birds; the nests may be quite close together. Nest site is on ground near lake or marsh, often on island. Nest (built by both sexes) is shallow depression, usually lined with weeds, grass, debris, feathers.
From breeding grounds in interior, most migrate west or southwest to Pacific Coast. Surprisingly few move south to Gulf Coast; extremely rare east to Atlantic Coast. Birds too young to breed may remain along Pacific Coast through the summer.
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