|Conservation status||Has been increasing its population in North America at least since the 1930s, with the breeding range steadily expanding southward along the Atlantic Coast and inland to some areas of the Great Lakes.|
|Family||Gulls and Terns|
|Habitat||Mainly coastal waters, estuaries; a few on large lakes. Close to coast at most seasons, but will forage far offshore in winter over the continental shelf. Some regularly move inland along St. Lawrence River to Great Lakes, rarely other fresh waters. Nests mostly on islands, tops of sea cliffs, sometimes on mainland beaches and marsh edges.|
Opportunistic. Forages on foot, while flying, or while swimming. May steal food from other birds. May break open hard-shelled mollusks and eggs by flying high and dropping them on rocks. Often scavenges on refuse around fishing boats, docks, garbage dumps.
2-3, sometimes 1-5. Olive to buff with brown blotches. Incubation is by both sexes, 27-28 days. Young: Both parents care for and feed young. Downy young may wander from nest after a few days, but remain in general area. Young are capable of flight at 7-8 weeks after hatching, become independent soon thereafter.
Both parents care for and feed young. Downy young may wander from nest after a few days, but remain in general area. Young are capable of flight at 7-8 weeks after hatching, become independent soon thereafter.
Omnivorous. Diet includes carrion, fish, mollusks, crustaceans, marine worms, insects, rodents, berries, and the adults, young, and eggs of other birds.
Usually first breeds at age of 4-5 years. Generally nests in colonies, often mixed with Herring Gulls or other birds; sometimes nests in isolated pairs. Nest site is on ground, often on top of or beside a rocky outcropping. Nest (built by both sexes) is mound of grass, seaweed, moss, debris, with shallow depression in center.
Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Present all year in most parts of breeding range, but withdraws in winter from coast of Labrador, and a few move south as far as Florida. Numbers in southeast and on Great Lakes increase in winter. Very rare on Gulf Coast and in most inland areas.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsSimilar to that of Herring Gull, but deeper and more guttural, a deep keeow.
Learn more about this sound collection.