Herring Gull

(Larus argentatus)

Conservation Status
Herring Gull
Photo by Bobbi Johnson
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

     
  NatureServe

N5B, N5N - Secure Breeding and Nonbreeding

SNRB, SNRN - Unranked Breeding and Nonbreeding

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
 
Description
 
 

 

 
     
 

Size

 
 

23 to 26 in length

48 wingspan

 
     
 

Voice

 
 

 

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Breeding: Islands in large lakes

Non-breeding: Large lakes and rivers, wetlands, landfills

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Migration

 
 

 

 
     
 

Nesting

 
 

 

 
     
 

Food

 
 

Opportunistic feeder. Aquatic invertebrates, fish, insects, worms, other bird’s eggs, human food waste.

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common migrant, locally common breeder

 
         
 

Maps

 
 

The Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union All Seasons Species Occurrence Map

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Class Aves (birds)  
 

Order

Charadriiformes (shorebirds and allies)  
 

Family

Laridae (gulls, terns, and skimmers)  
 

Subfamily

Larinae (gulls)  
 

Genus

Larus (large white-headed gulls)  
       
 

The American Herring Gull was formerly considered to be identical to the European Herring Gull (Larus argentatus). The gulls are morphologically “near-indistinguishable.” Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) studies in 2004 (Liebers, et al.) and 2005 (Knijff et al.) showed a difference between North American and European specimens. It suggested that they were not closely related, even belonging to different clades. This, along with differences in vocalizations described in 1958, suggest that the species should be separated. However, this was, and remains, controversial. Since mtDNA drifts within populations through hybridization, some authorities insist that it cannot be used as the sole determinant in separating species. Also, the vocal data is not conclusive for several reasons.

The British Ornithologist’s Union (BOU) and the Association of European Rarities Committees accept the split and use the name Larus smithsonianus for the North American gull. The American Ornithologist’s Union (AOU) considered and rejected the split in 2007. It treats the North American gull as a subspecies of the European, and uses the name Larus argentatus smithsonianus.

 
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

American Herring Gull (Larus argentatus smithsonianus)

European Herring Gull (Larus argentatus argentatus)

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Larus smithsonianus

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
Visitor Photos
 
           
 

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Bobbi Johnson

 
    Herring Gull      
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
 

 

 
           
           

 

Camera

 

     
Slideshows
   
  Herring Gulls
Andree Reno Sanborn
 
  Herring Gulls  
 
About

Larus argentatus

 
     
  Herring Gull
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren
 
  Herring Gull  
     
  American Herring Gull
JMC Nature Photos
 
  American Herring Gull  
     
  American Herring Gull - Larus smithsonianus
Jean-François Hic
 
  American Herring Gull - Larus smithsonianus  

 

slideshow

       
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Other Videos
 
  American Herring Gull Boardwalk 1 Oct 16
Tim Root
 
   
 
About

Published on Oct 16, 2016

Despite being so much larger than the nearby Ring-Billed Gulls, that Herring Gull is still a juvenile. I think first-cycle plumage but am not certain.

   
       
  American Herring Gull
Amar Ayyash
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Nov 6, 2011

This individual kept coming back to pick at this dead fish. This was recorded on the Chicago lakefront. I waited 20 minutes for it to come back.

   
       
  American Herring Gull (Larus argentatus smithsonianus) -First-Cycle
Stoil Ivanov
 
   
 
About

Published on Nov 29, 2013

American Herring Gull (Larus argentatus smithsonianus) first cycle eating a salmon carcass filmed 11-29-2013 at Montrose Wilson DOG BEACH - Chicago, IL

   
       
  American Herring gull, adult winter, Galveston TX, Nov 2010
Hans Larsson
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Nov 30, 2011

American Herring gull, Adult winter, Galveston TX, Nov 2010

   
       
  American Herring Gull
Nelson Wu
 
   
 
About

Published on Aug 21, 2016

   
       

 

Camcorder

 
 
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