Range/Geographical Distribution: Temperate shorelines throughout most of North America.
Habitat: Breeds on islands. Can be found at sea, along beaches and mudflats, and at dumps.
Similar Species: Ring-billed gull, laughing gull, royal tern, and Forester’s tern.
Description: A medium to large gull with a white head and underbody. Its back is grey and wingtips are black with white spots. Bill is yellow with a distinct red mark on it. Juvenile birds are mottled brown.
Size: Length: 22-24” Wingspan: 54-58” Weight: 800-1250g
Food: Fish, marine invertebrates, berries, insects, birds, eggs, and garbage (scavenger).
Breeding: Lays two to four spotted olive/brown eggs in a mass of seaweed or grass on the ground. Commonly nests on islands and in large colonies.
Predators: Sharks and large birds of prey.
Conservation Status: Herring gulls are listed as least concern by IUCN. Depleted fish stocks, litter, and loss of habitat are threats to these birds.
Interesting Facts: The herring gull drinks freshwater whenever it’s available. If it’s not available, the gull will drink salt water. Special glands near the eyes remove the excess salt and it can be seen dripping out of the gull’s nostrils.
On the Coast: The herring gull has extended its breeding range south on the Atlantic coast and now includes Georgia’s coastline. It may be displacing the more southern laughing gull from some areas.