Conservation status Numbers probably stable at the moment. Overfishing and pollution of the Gulf of California could cause problems for this species and other seabirds nesting there.
Family Gulls and Terns
Habitat In U.S., barren shoreline of Salton Sea. Visitors to Salton Sea concentrate on west side, mostly on open shoreline, sometimes foraging in flooded fields nearby. In Gulf of California, found around islands and shoreline, sometimes well out to sea but almost never inland.
Ignored for years, passed off as a local race of Western Gull, the Yellow-footed Gull is actually a very distinct species. It nests only in the Gulf of California, that long narrow arm of sea between Baja and the Mexican mainland. Every summer, after nesting, many Yellow-footed Gulls move north across the desert to the landlocked Salton Sea in southern California.

Feeding Behavior

Feeding behavior not well known. Forages while walking, wading, or swimming, sometimes plunging into water in flight.


Usually 3. Olive to buff, marked with dark brown. Incubation is probably by both parents. Young: Probably fed by both parents. Probably able to fly at about 6-7 weeks after hatching.


Probably fed by both parents. Probably able to fly at about 6-7 weeks after hatching.


Fish, other marine life. Diet poorly known. On Gulf of California, probably includes fish, crabs, shrimp, clams, wide variety of other sea creatures. Also takes eggs and young of other birds. Will eat carrion, and scavenges around dumps and docks for scraps and refuse.


Breeding behavior not well known, probably similar to that of Western Gull. Nests in colonies, with different arrangement from those of Western Gull: nests are arranged in a line along beach just above the reach of the highest tides, and each pair may defend a narrow territory from the nest down to the water. Nest site is on ground, on beach or at base of cliffs, a short distance above the high-tide line. Nest is a shallow depression, lined with seaweed, grass, or other plant material.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

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Most are probably permanent residents within Gulf of California. Some (up to several hundred) move north to Salton Sea, California, after nesting season. Main arrival typically late June, with peak numbers in August; small numbers usually remain through winter.

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Songs and Calls

Similar to calls of Western Gull, but deeper.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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