Herring Gull

Larus argentatus

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There are several forms of gull along the Pacific coast of North America which look very similar and are often difficult to distinguish from each other. Most gulls are white with dusky gray backs and wings. The Herring Gull most closely resembles the California Gull but does have several unique features. For example, these birds have pink-colored legs and feet and a bright red spot on the lower mandible.

They are most frequently found along the Oregon Coast during the winter months, often loitering around human-inhabited areas, estuaries or beaches where food sources are plentiful. They often work as scavengers and will raid everything from trash cans to picnic baskets to city dumps. When the tide is out, they will often wander the mud flats and snatch up some of the exposed invertebrates.

Range and Habitat

The Herring Gull will frequent the coast of the Pacific Northwest during the winter months. During other times of the year, they can be found in the tundra, sandy dune and wetlands of North America from Alaska east to Long Island, New York. These birds generally nest on islets or rocky cliffs.

Conservation Status

During the nineteenth century, the Herring Gull was almost wiped out in North America due to hunting for its plumage and eggs. Protection afforded the species by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 has enabled the species to rebound. It is now believed that the bird’s population exceeds its historical numbers prior to the settlement of the North American continent by Europeans.