Spotlight On Ohio Birds

Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)

Family: Laridae

Order: Charadiiformes

Description: 23″- 26″ (58-66 cm)  ADULT SUMMER Has a pale blue-gray back and upper wings, except for white trailing edge and dark wingtips with white “windows”. Plumage is otherwise white. Bill is yellow with orange spot on gonys, and eye has yellow iris and orange eyring. ADULT WINTER  Similar, but head and neck are streaked brown; leg, bill and eyering colors are duller. JUVENILE & 1st WINTER  Have mottled brown plumage, dark tail, and dull pink legs. Initially bill is dark, but becomes dark-tipped pink by first winter. Note pale inner primaries create pale panel on upper wing and otherwise uniformly brown upper wings. Adult plumage acquired through successive milts: becomes more uniform gray on back and upper wings and whiter elsewhere. Retains dark band on tail and some brown feathering on upper wings into third year.

Voice: Utters a distinctive “kyaoo” and a anxious “ga-ka-ka”

Habitat: Widespread and common, nesting on islands in northern lakes and on coasts. Winter range is mainly coastal.

Nesting: 1-3 eggs, light olive, buff, or grennish with darker splotches or speckling. The nest is a hollowed out depression 10-15 inches across and lined with scrapes of vegetation, feathers, plastic, rope or other material.


FYI’s: They’re the most familiar gulls of the North Atlantic and can be found across much of coastal North America in winter

They prefer drinking fresh water, but they’ll drink saltwater when they must. They have a special gland located above the eyes which allow them to excrete the salt.

Incubation Herring Gulls will pant to cool off.

Resource material provided by:

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology/

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