Western Gull (Seagull)

Scientific Name: Larus occidentalis

Pictures: (click for larger images)

Western Gull on a dumpster behind the Corner Bakery in Westwood Village, in the parking lot across the street from Jerry's Famous Deli.  4/28/05.
Western Gull in same location.  Here you can see its magnificent wings.
Western Gull flying overhead, in Westwood Village.  May, 2005.

-Photos by Jason Finley
-Illustration by Robert C. Stebbins from "Birds of the Campus" (1947) by Dr. Loye Miller.

Description: Large. 24-27" in length (beak to tail), bigger than a Pigeon, but smaller than a Red-Tailed Hawk.  White breast, neck, head.  Large yellow beak with red spot on lower half.  Back, wings, and tail are a dark gray.  Tall neck, tall pink legs, and webbed feet!  Probably the best way to tell the Western Gull from the California Gull is by the legs: Western has pink and California has yellow.

Sound: Listen to a Western Gull calling!  Link is to the sound page for this bird from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds.

Commonality/Seasonality: Common year-round (I think), but perhaps more abundant in Winter.

Location: I've only once or twice seen one on campus, flying over the Kerckhoff loading dock once.  Mostly they are found in the Westwood village back alleys, among the dumpsters and parking lots.

Notes: It takes these guys FOUR YEARS to acquire their adult plumage!  Juveniles are all speckly: white, gray, and light brown.  You'll often see them flying overhead, and can pick out the distinctive shape of their wings.  You can also observe their magnificent wings as they jockey for positions among the trash.  We also have California Gulls around, which are slightly smaller and have lighter gray parts than the Western Gulls.

Historical Dr. Loye Miller doesn't mention the Western Gull in "Birds of the Campus", unless I'm completely missing it.  Perhaps they weren't around here back in 1947?




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