Herring Gull

About the Herring Gull
Herring Gull

The Herring Gull is a large species of gull which breeds across North America, Europe and Asia. Some of them, especially those in colder areas, migrate further south in winter, but in many locations they are permanent year-round residents.

In some taxonomies, the American Herring Gull (Larus smithsonianus) is listed as a separate species from the European Herring Gull (Larus argentatus).

The Herring Gull's loud, laughing call is well-known in the northern hemisphere. Adult Herring Gulls are similar to Ring-billed Gulls in appearance, but Herrings are much larger, have pinkish legs, and a much thicker yellow bill with more pronounced gonys (the ridge in the middle of the gull's lower beak).

Ageing Herring Gulls can be tricky. First-winter birds (in their first year of life) are quite brown, but second and third-winter birds can be confusing, since soft part (bare skin) colors are variable and third-year Herring Gulls often show a ring around the bill. Such birds are most easily distinguished from Ring-billed and other species by the larger size and larger bill of Herring Gull.

The population status for both L. smithsonianus and L. argentatus is considered to be Least Concern as of November 2014.

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Details & Statistics


The Herring Gull is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List and was last assessed in 2015 by BirdLife International. This species is classified as Least Concern. It has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is currently thought to be part of a longer-term fluctuation following previous increases. Should new evidence suggest that it is continuing to decline the species would warrant uplisting to Near Threatened.

International Names

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