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Gull Identification
updated Jan. 22, 2004
 

This chart was set up by Dave Bontrager for his class in Aquatic Birds which he taught through Coastline College in 1985.
The purpose of the chart was to provide guidelines for identifying Gulls, in particular ADULT gulls, here in Orange County.
    Click here for a formatted document of this chart that will print out better.

For information about Dave's birding classes in 2004, click here.

Gull Identification Chart by Dave Bontrager
SPECIES LEG color BILL color MANTLE EYE MISCELLANEOUS
HEERMANN'S Gull
19" length  51" wingspan
Black Reddish orange 
with black tip
Entire body
grayish
Dark Dark Tail
BONAPARTE'S Gull
13.5" length 33" wingspan
Reddish Black Pale gray Dark No mottling on head in winter.
Black spot behind eye. 
RING-BILLED Gull
17.5" length 48" wingspan
Yellow/green Yellow with
black ring
Pale gray Light Head & Neck
mottled in winter.
MEW Gull
16" length  43" wingspan
Yellow/green Yellow Medium gray Dark Head & Neck
mottled in winter.
CALIFORNIA Gull
21" length  54" wingspan
Yellow/green Yellow with
black/red spot
Medium gray Dark Head & Neck
mottled in winter.
HERRING Gull
25" length 58" wingspan
Pink/fleshy Yellow with
red spot
Pale gray
(off white)
Light Head & Neck
mottled in winter.
Wing tips black
THAYER'S Gull
23" length 55" wingspan
Pink/fleshy Yellow with
red spot
Pale to Medium
gray
Dark Head & Neck
mottled in winter.
Some black in wing tips.
WESTERN Gull
25" length 58" wingspan
Pink/fleshy Yellow with
red spot
Dark gray Light Head & Neck
mottled in winter.
GLAUCOUS-WINGED Gull
26" length58" wingspan
Pink/fleshy Yellow with
red spot
Pale gray Dark Head & Neck
mottled in winter.
Pale wing tips.

Additional Gull Information:
 
Tail Color: Most adult gulls have pure white tails except for Heermann's Gulls. 
xxxx The leading edge of the Bonaparte's Gull wing is white.
xxxxx xxxxx
Color of Primaries: The underside of the primaries on a Herring Gull is dark.
XXXX The underside of the primaries on both the Thayer's Gull and the Glaucous-winged Gull is pale. 


Sea & Sage Audubon Society
PO Box 5447 • Irvine, CA 92616 • 949-261-7963

http://www.seaandsageaudubon.org