Herring Gull

photo by Phil Swanson

Larus argentatus
L 25″ (64 cm) W 58″ (147 cm).

Song or calls:
Listen (NGPC audio)

Loud “ke-yah, ke-yah” series, and various squeals. 

Description: Sexes similar. Breeding adult is pale gray above and white below; pink legs; yellow eyes; and a yellow bill with a red spot. Adult winter plumage is similar to breeding but with brown streaking on head and breast. Third winter bird is similar to winter adult but has black tip on bill. Second winter bird is brown overall with gray back, pale eye, and two-toned bill. Juvenile is dark brown overall with pink legs and totally dark bill.

Bird Map
Habitat: Migrants can be found on rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and other water bodies.

Where in Nebraska: Uncommon spring and fall migrant across the state. Becoming rarer in the west. Occasional stragglers seen during the summer.

Status: Populations of this bird are increasing as it is beginning to use man-made sources of food in harbors, seafood canneries, and city dumps.

Fun Facts: The Herring Gull regularly drinks fresh water when it is available. If none is around, the gull will drink seawater. Special glands located over its eyes allow it to excrete the salt

juvenile Herring Gull - photo by Phil Swanson Herring Gull - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)