Cool Facts about Gulls: Frequently Asked Questions

We're celebrating the world's gulls! Today we are sharing some FAQs about gulls.

Why do gulls stand on one leg?
Gulls aren't the only birds that stand on one leg. Many species exhibit this behavior, and the reason usually has to do with regulating body temperature. Feathers on a bird's body help to keep it warm in cold temperatures, but when the legs are unfeathered, as in gulls, the bird can lose precious body heat through the exposed skin. Keeping one leg tucked under body feathers while standing on the other helps the bird to keep warm.

Birdorable Ring-billed Gull standing on one leg

Why are gull wingtips often black or dark?
Melanin is a natural pigment found in animals; it occurs in mammals, birds, reptiles, and other organisims. However, melanin isn't just about color. Melanin can also strengthen. The melanin in the wingtips of a bird helps to protect the feathers from wear and tear. And it also makes them black. Besides gulls, many raptor species have black wingtips, and some otherwise all-white birds like White Ibises, Snow Geese, American White Pelicans, and Wood Storks also have black wingtips.

Why do gulls stamp their feet?
It is thought that gulls tap their feet to imitate falling rain. The sensation of incoming rain "tricks" earthworms or other subterranean creatures to come to the surface to avoid drowning. When the worms reach the surface, they become an easy meal for the clever gull. This kind of "worm stomping" is the original "rain dance"!

What is the difference between a gull and a seagull?
Gull is the common name given to seabirds in the family Laridae. Often these birds are referred to as seagulls, but the term is not used by most biologists or ornithologists. The most common gull in Australia, the Silver Gull, is often called "seagull" by locals. But in taxonomical terms, there is no such bird as a seagull.

Do gulls have webbed feet?
Yes, gulls have webbed feet. Though some gulls live inland and may spend a lot of time away from large bodies of water, many gulls spend much of their time in and around water. Having webbed feet helps them maneuver efficiently in the water. However, this adaptation does limit their ability to carry items with their feet.

Webbed feet on a gull

What is special about gull jaws?
Gulls are opportunistic feeders, meaning they are able to take advantage of a huge variety of food items. They may hunt for live prey, they might steal food from others, or they might scavange scraps from garbage dumps or dead animals (carrion). Something that helps them take the most advantage of eating opportunities is the fact that they have unhinging jaws. This gives them the ability to consume very large items.

What is the collective noun for gull?
A collective noun is used to name a group of something. A group of birds is commonly known as a flock. A group of crows is a murder, a group of finches is a charm, and a group of geese is a gaggle. What about gulls? A group of gulls is known as a colony.

Do you have any other questions? Let us know in the comments below or go to our Meet the Birds area and learn about each of our Birdorable gulls. And don't forget to check out our cute gull gifts. Here are some samples below.

A Colony of Cute Gull Gifts

Comments

Christine on January 30, 2017 at 7:24 PM wrote:
Thank you for confirming a few Herring Gull tricks, that I find so fascinating. The first is your video, whereby the Herring Gull is tamping his/her feet on the grass, to wake up any potential worms, to eat. And it truly works! I live close to a small cove, part of the Atlantic Ocean. I have a friend Herring Gull, whom I have named Gully, I know, very original. Well I have a video of Gully stamping the ocean floor, close to the shore, and sure enough he catches crabs, or periwinkles, or what ever he happens to wake up, and when he does wake up a potential meal, he dives down asap! Herring Gulls have intelligence. I knew that the collective noun for Gulls is a colony of Herring Gulls, Thank you, Christine :-)
Mark on February 5, 2018 at 2:30 PM wrote:
Whats the small barb protruding from a gulls leg ?
Mr christopher r mussett on July 30, 2019 at 1:22 PM wrote:
how doe's a gull carry a dog away has dog would be struggle.
Chantal Taylor on June 3, 2021 at 4:26 PM wrote:
Someone said they saw a seagull with a small hole in his webbed feet. What caused this.
Lindsay on June 29, 2021 at 1:16 PM wrote:
I saw a full carrying a mangled dead rat in its feet. How cannot do that with webbed feet? He said stop it I have to say.
Spurwing Plover on February 2, 2022 at 7:55 AM wrote:
I have seen Ring Bill Gull in Yreka Ca in the Spring Time i live in Etna ca some 25 to 30 Miles South of Yreka and once saw a Gull over own town with have the Klamath River which would be one reason the Gulls are in Yreka along with the fast food places
Rebecca on December 9, 2023 at 1:01 AM wrote:
I’m obsessed with gulls and I imitate their noises. They are so adorable and every time I see them I stop to look at them all and I tell them that I love them. I recently got a field guide for gulls and I am calm whenever I hear and see them.

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