Whatcom Magazine

Western gull

Western gulls are a common visitor to coastlines, and sometimes venture into Washington’s inland marine waters.
Western gulls are a common visitor to coastlines, and sometimes venture into Washington’s inland marine waters. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Western gulls (Larus occidentalis) nest along the Pacific coast from Washington to Baja, and occasionally venture into Washington’s inland marine waters.

Adults have a gray back and gray wings, white underwings, and a head that’s mostly white with some brown streaks. Its bill is yellow with a red spot, and its eyes are dark yellow. They reach adult plumage after four years; before then juveniles are mottled brown with a dark bill and dark eyes.

The large gull can be found at estuaries, beaches and fields, as well as at garbage dumps and urban waterfronts. Nests are often on coast islands or hard-to-reach mainland cliffs.

Like other gulls, Western gulls drop hard-shelled items onto hard surfaces to crack them open for feeding. They eat a wide variety of things, including fish, carrion, garbage, dead sea lion pups, and unguarded eggs or chicks of other birds near their own nesting colonies.

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