Herring Gull

Larus argentatus
A Herring Gull specimen on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A large (23-26 inches) seagull, the Herring Gull is most easily identified by its black-tipped wings, pale yellow eye, pink legs, and yellow bill with red spot on the lower half. Winter and immature gulls of many species are notoriously difficult to identify as these birds may be splotched or streaked with brown on the head and breast. Male and female Herring Gulls are similar to one another in all seasons. The Herring Gull inhabits a wide portion of the Northern Hemisphere. In North America, this species breeds across Alaska, Canada, the Northern United States, and the Mid-Atlantic region. Populations breeding in southern Alaska, the Great Lakes, and the Mid-Atlantic region are non-migratory, while those breeding in the interior migrate south to the Pacific coast from southern Alaska south to central Mexico, along the coast and in the interior in the southeastern U.S., in eastern Mexico, in Central America, and in the West Indies. In Eurasia, the Herring Gull breeds in northern Europe and Asia, wintering south to North Africa and South Asia. Herring Gulls breed on rocky or sandy islands and beaches by lakes, in marshes, and along the coast. Similar habitats are utilized in winter as in summer. Herring Gulls eat a variety of foods, including crustaceans, fish, carrion, garbage, and, occasionally, other birds. Herring Gulls are most easily seen foraging for food along sandy beaches. In many areas, this is one of the most common “seagulls,” and may be seen foraging for refuse and carrion on the beach, flying over the water and plunging in to catch fish, or floating on the water’s surface while catching fish with its bill. This species is primarily active during the day.

DC Information

Common along the Potomac River, found year-round, breeds from May through August. Fully adult birds are pure white with the back and wings deep pearly gray, while immature birds are mostly mottled brown with various amounts of white and gray. Sexes are similar.

Specimen Information

An adult female is shown above and is on the right in the exhibit.
Date: 3/6/1893
Collected By: Edward J Brown
Locality: Analostan Island, DC
Sex: Female
Catalog ID: 220276
 
This is the record for an immature female (not shown) on the left in the exhibit.
Date: 1/18/1892
Collected By: Edward J Brown
Locality: District of Columbia
Sex: Female
Catalog ID: 220277

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Larus argentatus

Larus argentatus

Larus argentatus

Images