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Western Gull

Silhouette GullsGulls
Western GullLarus occidentalis
  • ORDER: Charadriiformes
  • FAMILY: Laridae

Basic Description

The Western Gull is widespread along Pacific beaches of the U.S. and Baja California, where its large size and dark back set it apart from other local gulls. Be aware that hybrids between Western and Glaucous-winged Gulls are common, particularly in the Pacific Northwest. These large gulls eat a wide variety of fish, marine invertebrates, and carrion, both along the shoreline and out at sea. Although they are fairly common within their range, Western Gull numbers have declined, placing the species on the Partners in Flight Yellow Watch List.

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

Western Gulls are common year-round, although they stay close to saltwater and rarely travel very far inland. Take a walk along the ocean and watch for a large, dark-backed gull. On flying birds, look for the dark-topped primary feathers to show through from below. In the northern part of the range especially, take care to rule out hybrids with Glaucous-winged Gulls, which can look similar to the paler-backed northern subspecies of Western Gull.

Other Names

  • Gaviota Occidental (Spanish)
  • Goéland d'Audubon (French)
  • Cool Facts