Larus glaucescens

Description Glaucus Winged Gulls are seen on a whale watching boat tour with Eagle Wing Tours in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on Vancouver Island.

  • A large white gull with pearly gray mantle and wings, measuring 24–27 inches (61–69 cm)
  • Gray primaries show a white “window” near tip of each feather; bill yellow with red spot on lower mandible; eyes light brown or silvery; feet pink
  • In winter, red spot on bill becomes a diffuse black; head and nape look dusky
  • Juvenile similar to Western Gull juvenile, but much paler
  • First-year birds gray-brown overall, with wing tips same colour as mantle. Black bill; dark eyes and feet. Second-year birds acquire more gray and are generally paler

Habitat

Rocky or sandy beaches, harbours, dumps; open ocean.

Nesting

Two or three light olive-brown eggs, with dark speckles, in a grass or seaweed nest placed in a depression on remote islets or headlands. Nests in colonies.

Range

Resident from Aleutians and western and southern coasts of Alaska south to north-western Washington. Winters south along coast to southern California.

Voice

A raucous series of similar notes on one pitch; also soft ga-ga notes when an intruder approaches.

Discussion

Very rarely away from salt water, like other large gulls, this species feeds mainly along the shore. Over water it picks up edibles such as dead or dying fish and squid; on the beach it feeds on dead seabirds, seals, whales, starfish, clams, and mussels. In harbours and towns it scavenges garbage. One banded female was observed making daily trips from her nest to a garbage dump about 40 miles (65 km) away.

**Other species common to the Victoria area are: California, herring, western, Heerman’s, mew, and Bonaparte’s gulls (total of 13 different species that are present at varying times of the year). There is also extensive interbreeding amongst the different species and this tends to result in difficult identification of the gulls.