Kelp Gull
Larus dominicanus

At a Glance

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.
Gull-like Birds
Low Concern
Coasts and Shorelines, Lakes, Ponds, and Rivers, Saltwater Wetlands

Range & Identification


23". A large gull, near size of Herring Gull. Adult with blackish back, dull greenish yellow legs. Not quite as dark above as Great Black-backed Gull, and shows less white in wingtips. Darker above and bulkier than Lesser Black-backed Gull.
About the size of a Mallard or Herring Gull
Tail Shape
Rounded, Short, Square-tipped

Songs and Calls

The call is a strident ki-och.