Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
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California Gull

California Gull
Larus californicus
Gull-like Birds | Family: Gulls and Terns, Laridae

An estimated 6% of the species' North American population breeds within the Boreal Forest.

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Overview

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.

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.

Voice

A repetitive kee-yah.

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.

Habitat

In breeding season, on interior lakes and marshes; in winter, mostly on seacoast.

Range/Migration

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.