There are a lot of different kinds of gulls in our part of the world and you will note several different types in the pages that follow. We are not smart enough to tell you which is which, but one tip to the wise when you are next talking to a real birder. Don't tell them that you saw a lot of seagulls at Sea Ranch. Apparently in the lexicon of true birding experts there is no such thing as a seagull.

Most of the gulls that you will see in The Sea Ranch will be Western Gull, Larus occidentalis. At maturity, he has a pristine white head and body with a medium gray on the upper side of his wings and a white tip on the very end of his wing feathers. The lower side of the wing is white with a very dark gray tip. His bill is yellow with a red dot at the end of the lower part of the bill. The ornothologists tell us that the red dot serves to stimulate Western Gull's chicks to feed. Before maturity gives him his breeding plumage, he is dressed in brown feathers. We are never sure with Gulls, but we think the pictures on this page are of Western Gull.

Western Gull

Western Gull

Western Gull

Western Gull

Most gulls have different plumage in summer and in winter and take between two and four years to develop their full adult plumage. They are never easy to identify, but are particularly difficult to tell apart when imature. To make things even more confusing, they molt in summer and sometimes in spring. According to resident birders who know their stuff, the gulls seen in The Sea Ranch include Bonaparte's Gull, Larus philadelphia; Heermann's Gull, Larus heermanni; Mew Gull, Larus canus; Ring-billed Gull, Larus delawarensis; California Gull, Larus californicus; Herring Gull, Larus argentatus; Thayer's Gull, Larus thayeri; Western Gull, Larus occidentalis; Glaucous-winged Gull, Larus glaucescens; and Glaucous Gull, Larus hyperboreus.

To make things even more interesting they cross breed with other gulls,
making positive identification really difficult.

Heermann's Gull