Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
© Kaaren Perry/Wikimedia Commons (CC 2.0)

Mew Gull

Mew Gull
Larus canus
Gull-like Birds | Family: Gulls and Terns, Laridae

An estimated 58% of the global population of Mew Gull breeds in the wetlands of the boreal forest of western Canada and Alaska. 

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Overview

This small gull is as versatile a feeder as the larger species of gulls, but its egg-stealing in seabird colonies is less destructive. It often catches insects, sometimes from swarms in the air. In winter the species is entirely restricted to the Pacific Coast of North America from southern Alaska to the northern coastline of Mexico's Baja California. Birds depart southern portion of wintering range by April and May and return to wintering areas from August through October. Within the boreal portion of its range the Mew Gull breeds in freshwater habitats, often on small islands or hummocks.

Description

16-18" (41-46 cm). White with gray mantle, black wing tips, and greenish-yellow legs. Bill small compared to those of larger gulls and in adults unmarked greenish-yellow. Juvenile similar to young Ring-billed Gull, but generally darker with less crisply marked tail band.

Voice

A high mewing kee-yer.

Nesting

2 or 3 olive eggs, with brown or black blotches and scrawls, in a grass nest placed on a beach or riverbank, or in a treetop, on a stump, or on pilings. Almost always nests in colonies, often among other gulls.

Habitat

Nests along rivers and lakeshores as well as seacoasts.

Range/Migration

Breeds from Alaska east to central Mackenzie and south to northern Saskatchewan and along coast to southern British Columbia. Winters on Pacific Coast. Also along boreal forest belt of Eurasia.