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Herring Gull

Larus argentatus

Length: 22 to 26 inches Wingspan: 54 to 58 inches Seasonality: Migrant / Winter
ID Keys: Black wingtips with white spots, pale yellow eyes, red spot on bill, pink legs.

Herring Gull - Larus argentatusHerring Gulls are one of the most familiar and widespread gulls in North America.  Herring Gull numbers were greatly reduced in the 19th century, but are now numerous, and expanding in range and numbers. They are often found foraging around garbage dumps, fishing operations, and other human activities.

Habitat: Wide variety of aquatic habitats, but most often found around coastlines, large lakes, and large river systems.

Diet: Omnivorous, including fish, crustaceans, mollusks, birds, eggs, insects, worms, small rodents, berries, carrion, and refuse.

Behavior: Uses a very wide variety of foraging habits, depending upon food item being pursued and experiences of individual birds.  Individual birds and birds in specific locations often adopt specialized foraging techniques.  Will capture food by walking, swimming, dipping to grab food items from the water's surface, or stealing food from other birds.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota

Song: Wide variety of vocalizations.

Migration: Varying numbers in the state during winter, otherwise a migrant through the state.  Summers in Canada, the Great Lakes region, and the Northeast.  Winters along the coasts and in scattered locations throughout the U.S. and Mexico.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Herring Gull sightings

Similar Species: In South Dakota, most similar to the Ring-Billed Gull, California Gull.  See Identification Tips.  Very similar to the Yellow-legged Gull and others as well.

Conservation Status: Greatly expanded range and numbers in the 20th century.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Herring Gull

2) BirdWeb - Herring Gull

3) Audubon Guide - Herring Gull

Photo Information: April 21st, 2012 - Sachuest National Wildlife Refuge, Rhode Island - Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Herring Gull photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Herring Gull - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Locally common migrant, most often near the Missouri River and its reservoirs.  Uncommon winter resident along the Missouri River.

Additional Herring Gull Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
 Herring Gull - Larus argentatusHerring Gull - Larus argentatusHerring Gull - Larus argentatusHerring Gull - Larus argentatusHerring Gull - Larus argentatus