This large bird is the gull we most often envision when we think "gull" or "seagull."
Like many gulls, herring gulls are opportunistic omnivores eating carrion, fish, garbage, and stealing food from other birds. Herring gulls are often frequent visitors to landfills where they find great quantities of discarded human foods, although adults often forage for natural foods when they have chicks.
They have also been known to steal food from other birds, including fish caught by common loons. It is this ability to find shelter and food in human-altered environments that has made this bird so successful.
Chicks peck at a red spot found on the end of the adults’ bills--something that all large gull species have--to stimulate the adults to regurgitate food.
Chicks are semi-precocial and can leave the nest, which is usually built in the open, to find shade on hot days. However, they cannot feed themselves and rely on the adults to find them food, even well after fledging.
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)
Key ID Features: Large gull with pale gray back, pinkish legs, yellow bill with red spot. Wingtips are dark with white spots.
Present in Park: March through December.
Habitat: Usually found around water features, such as the Mississippi or Minnesota Rivers. Nests in small colonies, or even as individual pairs, usually on islands. Nests are simple scrapes on ground.
Did You Know?
The river is so shallow at Lake Itasca that children can walk across the Mississippi. Between Governor Nicholls Wharf and Algiers Point in New Orleans, the Mississippi is more than 200 feet deep.