Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Western Gull

Larus occidentalis


Fun Facts

    The Western gull typically lives about 15 years, but can live to at least 25 years.

    This gull takes four years to achieve adult plumage.




The Western gull is a large gull that can get to 60 cm long. It has a white head and body, and gray wings, a yellow bill with a red spot. This spot is near the end of the bill and chicks peck this area to stimulate feeding. Juveniles are mottled brown, with a dark bill and dark eyes, and pinkish-gray legs. The juvenile plumage varies and takes on more of the adult plumage characteristics each successive year. Western Gulls nest on the ground, laying 2-3 well-camouflaged eggs on a pad of grass or other vegetation. At birth the mottled coloration of the down-covered chick makes it difficult for predators to spot.


These birds are found mostly near the coast, but can also be found regularly offshore. They are not typically found far inland. Many types of habitats are used, including estuaries, beaches, rocky shore, and urbanized areas. Nest sites are often located on islands or inaccessible mainland cliffs. This gull ranges from British Columbia, Canada to Baja California, Mexico.


To learn more about the Western gull visit the Mudflats Room and the Seabirds & Pinnipeds Room at the Aquarium.