Comprehensive Guide to selected species of:
Birds of the Boreal Forest « back to Guide
California Gull Larus californicus
Family: Gulls and Terns, Laridae
Audio: Martyn Stewart, © Naturesound.org
An estimated 6% of the species' North American population breeds within the Boreal Forest.
Description 20-23" (51-58 cm). Similar to Herring Gull but smaller, with darker gray mantle, dark eye, reddish eye ring, and greenish legs. Bill of breeding adult has red spot overlapped by black. Winter and immature birds have black subterminal bar on bill and lack red eye ring of adults. A common inland gull.
Habitat In breeding season, on interior lakes and marshes; in winter, mostly on seacoast.
Nesting 2 or 3 heavily blotched, buff-olive eggs in a nest made of grass, dead weeds, and sticks. Large colonies are found on islands in shallow inland lakes, often together with Ring-billed Gulls, though each species remains with its own kind.
Voice A repetitive kee-yah.
Range Breeds in northern prairie provinces east to North Dakota, south to northwestern Wyoming and Utah, west to northeastern California. Winters mainly on coast from Oregon southward, in lesser numbers inland.
Discussion The California Gull attained fame when it arrived in great numbers at the Mormon colony near Great Salt Lake and devoured a locust swarm that threatened the settlers' first crop. A statue in Salt Lake City commemorates the event.