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Glaucous-winged Gull

Larus glaucescens

Length: 22 inches Wingspan: 48 to 54 inches Seasonality: Extremely Rare Visitor
ID Keys: Large, pinkish legs, medium-gray mantle, white head and underparts, yellow bill with red spot

Glaucous-winged Gull - Larus glaucescensThe Glaucous-winged Gull is a large gull normally found along the Pacific coast, breeding from the Washington coast northward through the southern and western coasts of Alaska, and found along the entire North American coastline in winter and migration.  The species is only rarely found inland, and was unknown in South Dakota until an individual was spotted along the Missouri River in the winter of 2008-2009.

Habitat: Primarily found near coastlines.  Found less often in open water far from shore, and is only an very rare visitor to inland lakes and rivers.

Diet: Omnivorous, feeding on a wide variety of food items including fish, crustaceans, squid, sea urchins, eggs, small birds and mammals, and occasionally plant material.  Will also sometimes scavenge for trash and garbage and dumps and other sites.

Behavior: Uses a variety of foraging techniques, depending upon food item being pursued. 

Nesting: Non-breeder in South Dakota

Song: Long, empty-sounding call.  Locally variable.

Migration: Breeds along coastlines throughout most of Alaska except the northern shores, as well as the western Canada coastline and southward to Washington state.  Winters in much of the same area, but also extends southward along the entire coastline of North America.

Interactive eBird map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Glaucous-winged Gull sightings

Similar Species: Similar to other large gulls, including Herring, Glaucous, and Thayer's gulls.  Click here for a page on tips for differentiating between these and other gulls.

Conservation Status: Has adapted well to a human presence, with populations seemingly expanding in range and number in recent decades.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Glaucous-winged Gull

2) Cornell Lab of Ornithology - Glaucous-winged Gull

3) eNature.com: Glaucous-winged Gull

Photo Information:  June 24th, 2007 - Off the coast of Seward, Alaska -- Terry Sohl

 

Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Glaucous-winged Gull - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Only rarely found away from the Pacific Ocean and Pacific coastline.  Unknown in South Dakota, until an individual was found by Ricky Olson, Kenny Miller, and others along the Missouri River near Pierre in the winter of 2008-2009.

Additional Glaucous-winged Gull Photos
 Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
Glaucous-winged Gull - Larus glaucescensGlaucous-winged Gull - Larus glaucescensGlaucous-winged Gull - Larus glaucescensGlaucous-winged Gull - Larus glaucescensGlaucous-winged Gull - Larus glaucescensGlaucous-winged Gull - Larus glaucescensGlaucous-winged Gull - Larus glaucescensGlaucous-winged Gull - Larus glaucescensGlaucous-winged Gull - Larus glaucescensGlaucous-winged Gull - Larus glaucescensGlaucous-winged Gull - Larus glaucescens