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Short-billed Gull

Silhouette GullsGulls
Short-billed GullLarus brachyrhynchus
  • ORDER: Charadriiformes
  • FAMILY: Laridae

Basic Description

The Short-billed Gull is a small, almost dainty gull that superficially resembles many other white-headed gulls with black wingtips, including California, Iceland, and Ring-billed. On a closer look, Short-billed Gulls are notably smaller, with a delicate, thin bill and round, almost dovelike head. On their Alaskan and Canadian breeding grounds, they sometimes nest in trees like Bonaparte’s Gulls. Short-billed Gulls are versatile foragers, able to catch fish and insects, steal food from other seabirds, or pick up scraps of grain, berries, or carrion from the ground.

More ID Info
image of range map for Short-billed Gull
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Short-billed Gulls breed in Alaska and northern Canada, but most birdwatchers encounter them in the nonbreeding season, when they're fairly common along the Pacific Coast of Canada and the U.S. Look for them on Pacific beaches as well as adjacent estuaries and grassy fields. They frequently gather in flocks of other gull species; look through them for a smaller individual with a small head, thin bill, and dark eye. Spotting scopes are always helpful for scanning flocks of gulls, if you have one or can borrow one.

Other Names

  • Gaviota de Alaska (Spanish)
  • Goéland à bec court (French)
  • Cool Facts