Family Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Least Concern

Grey Gull (Larus modestus)


French: Goéland gris German: Graumöwe Spanish: Gaviota garuma

Larus modestus


, 1843,

Lurin, south of Lima, Peru


Some recent authors place this species, along with L. pipixcan, L. scoresbii, L. atricilla and L. fuliginosus, in genus Leucophaeus (the “hooded gulls”). Previously thought to be most closely related to L. heermanni. Monotypic.


Inland deserts (mainly Atacama) of N Chile and probably S Peru; foraging individuals and non-breeders range along coast from Ecuador (common to Guayas, rarely farther N) S to SC Chile (common to Valdivia, rarely to Golfo de Penas).

Descriptive notes

c. 45 cm; 360–400 g. Unmistakable within range. The breeding adult is a distinctive medium-sized, dull grey gull, with whitish head and black wingtips; darker above... read more


Long-call somewhat similar to L. atricilla, but ends with a single drawn-out plaintive... read more


Feeds along sandy coastal beaches, eschewing rocky areas. Also forages offshore in waters of the... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly and sometimes exclusively mole crabs (Emerita analoga); also fish, nereid worms and offal. Mostly fish fed to young (only... read more


November–January; eggs from mid-December. Does not breed in years with severe occurrence of El Niño. Colony of c. 60,000 nests... read more


During breeding season, daily movement of off-duty birds from coast to colony after dark, with... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Abundant along the Pacific coast, but generally less conspicuous inland. Total population exceeds 100,000 pairs. Egg-collecting can... read more

Recommended citation

Burger, J., Gochfeld, M., Garcia, E.F.J. & Boesman, P. (2020). Grey Gull (Larus modestus). 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 4 April 2020).