Monday, August 29, 2011

California Gull

California Gull photo © Michael G. Shepherd California Gull (Larus californicus)

The California Gull adults are roughly 19-21 inches (47-54 cm) in length with a wingspan of up to 51 inches (130 cm). Their head is white with a yellow bill. The neck and under parts are also white. The gull's back and wings are dark gray. The legs and feet are a greenish-yellow color. Breeding and nesting time frame for California Gulls is usually in May to July. The nest is typically a shallow depression on the ground lined with vegetation and feathers. The female gull normally lays 2 or 3 eggs. Both parents will take turns feeding the young birds. The California Gull is a “four-year gull,” in that it takes four years for them to reach adult plumage.

The California Gull can be found on the pacific coastline from northern Mexico to British Columbia. They range far inland from New Mexico to Manitoba. They prefer to eat insects, fish and eggs, however, they are well known for scavenging at garbage dumps or docks. They have also been seen to follow farmers plowing in fields, eating the insects stirred up by this activity.

The California Gull has an interesting foraging strategy for catching alkali flies along the shores of salty lakes in the Great Basin in the western United States. It starts at one end of a huge swarm of flies sitting on the beach and runs through the flies with its head down and bill open, snapping up flies.

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