Herring gull photo by Andreas Trepte / Wikimedia

Herring Gull

Our most common large gull continent-wide, the herring gull is heavy bodied and heavy billed. In summer adult plumage, the head is clean white, the bill is yellow with a red spot, and the legs are pinkish. Winter adults have “dirty” heads.

Listen For

Call is similar to other common gulls but a lower-pitched and hoarser two-syllabled oww-uh! oww-uh! Also utters a rapid, tuneless uh-uh-uh.


Herring gulls take four years to reach adult plumage. They start out all brown and get whiter and cleaner looking as they age.

Find it

Herring gulls are usually found near large bodies of water, although they also visit large landfills. In winter, they can be found on inland rivers, particularly near dams.


Herring gulls sometimes carry large shellfish such as mussels, clams, and oysters in the air and drop them onto a hard surface in order to break them open and eat them.

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