Family Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Least Concern

California Gull (Larus californicus)


French: Goéland de Californie German: Kaliforniermöwe Spanish: Gaviota californiana

Larus Californicus


, 1854,

Stockton, California, USA


Races, formerly disjunct, have recently come together in N plains, where a zone of secondary contact is being created; genetic studies reveal little divergence between them. Two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. c. albertaensis Jehl, 1987 – WC Canada from S Mackenzie (Great Slake L), Alberta and W Manitoba S to N USA (South Dakota).
  • L. c. californicus Lawrence, 1854 – W USA from E Washington and Great Basin to C Montana and Wyoming, and S to E California.
  • Winters mainly from SW Canada to SW Mexico.

    Descriptive notes

    51–58 cm; 432–885 g (californicus), 568–1045 g (albertaensis); wingspan 122–140 cm. Four-year gull. Resembles L. delawarensis... read more


    Long call is higher-pitched and harsher than in L. smithsonianus; a series of “kyow” notes... read more


    Breeds in open habitats in the arid interior, usually on low rocky islands in both freshwater and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Birds inland, including during the breeding season, take a broad diversity of food items including insects and grubs (especially Orthoptera... read more


    Returns to colonies in early Mar; lays late Apr to May; hatching is mostly from early Jun (mid May). Mated pairs tend to be of same age,... read more


    Winters mostly along the Pacific coast from British Columbia to S Baja California and Colima, and... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). The global population, following growth and range expansion during much of the 20th century, was estimated in 2011 at 621,000... read more

    Recommended citation

    Burger, J., Gochfeld, M., Kirwan, G.M. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2019). California Gull (Larus californicus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 7 December 2019).