Kelp GullLarus dominicanus

George L. Armistead/VIREO
immature (first year)
George L. Armistead/VIREO


23" Once thought to be subspecies of Lesser black-backed Gull but heavier bodied and billed, duller legs and darker above. Similar to Western Gull subspecies wymani, but legs are a dull yellowish green. Adults have black upperparts and wings. The head, underparts, tail and the small areas of wing tips are white. The bill is yellow with a red spot, and the legs are greenish-yellow and become brighter and more yellow during the breeding season. Juveniles have dull legs, black bill, a dark tail band, and an overall grey-brown plumage densely edged whitish, but they quickly change into a pale base to the bill and largely white head and underparts. They take three or four years to attain adult plumage.


Maritime coasts, bays, inlets and estuaries. Fond of landfills.


They nest in loose colonies or scattered single pairs on off-shore islands, laying 2-3 mottled eggs in a well-made bowl of or a loose pile of plants and seaweed on the ground, near rocks or vegetation. Both the adults build the nest, incubate the eggs, brood and feed the young. Eggs hatch in 23 to 30 days and young fledge in 45 to 60 days. Most Kelp gulls ultimately return to colonies where they were born.


Found along coasts and islands through much of the southern hemisphere, but has nested on islands off Louisiana in Gulf of Mexico where it hybridizes with Herring Gulls.



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