Larus smithsonianus

Common Names: American herring gull, Smithsonian gull
Category: Birds
Sub-category: Gulls, Terns, & Skimmers

It is a heavily built large gull with a long powerful bill, full chest and sloping forehead. Breeding adults have a white head, rump, tail, and underparts and a pale gray back and upperwings. The wingtips are black with white spots known as "mirrors" and the rear edge of the wing is white. The underwing is grayish with dark tips to the outer primary feathers. The legs and feet are normally pink but can have a bluish tinge, or occasionally be yellow. The bill is yellow with a red spot on the lower mandible. The eye is bright, pale to medium yellow, with a bare yellow or orange ring around it. In winter, the head and neck are streaked with brown.

Young birds take four years to reach fully adult plumage. During this time they go through several plumage stages and can be very variable in appearance. First-winter birds are gray-brown with a dark tail, a brown rump with dark bars, dark outer primaries and pale inner primaries, dark eyes, and a dark bill, which usually develops a paler base through the winter. The head is often paler than the body. Second-winter birds typically have a pale eye, pale bill with black tip, pale head and begin to show gray feathers on the back. Third-winter birds are closer to adults but still have some black on the bill and brown on the body and wings and have a black band on the tail.

Found mostly along the coast line, although they often go inland, especially along major rivers and near refuse/trash dumps.

Edible Notes: No available information on edibility.
Warnings: Not known to be dangerous.