back to the Gull ID MainPage

California Gull (californicus/albertaensis)


First Cycle
Second Cycle
Third Cycle


CALIFORNIA GULL (20-23";48-55") californicus/albertaensis

BILL SHAPE: thicker than Ring-billed; 3-4x eye diameter; gon. angle small; relatively steep curve to culmen at tip
HEAD SHAPE: rounded crown, sometimes w/ obvious peak; sloped forehead; distinct brow
WING EXTENSION: about bill length
POSTURE/HABITS: albert. averages larger w/ broader base to wings
BILL COLOR: pale flesh w/ clean black tip, more so on the lower mand; juvs in late summer may show all black bills pale yellow w/ squared black tip, sometimes w/ tiny pale yellow tip ... pale yellow w/ red gon. spot and black subterm line; bright yellow by spring; gape often red
LEG COLOR: dull gray-pink; may be pale green by summer very dull greenish-yellow to grayish-blue dull yellow w/ a green-blue tone; brighter yellow in summer
IRIS/ORB RING: dark dark ... iris dark to pale brown; orb. ring red
HEAD: pale around bill and throat; crown and aurs med g-b, often w/ fine streaks, darkest around and behind eye; foreneck and nape pale w/ light streaks or spots; heavy, dark blurred streaks on sides of neck fairly white; smudge in front of eye; thin dark postocular line; thin diffuse streaking on crown and upper nape and aurs; thicker diffuse streaks on sides of neck and nape back of head, nape and sides of neck often heavily streaked, ending sharply at top of breast; throat and center breast usually white; crown and aurs may be delicately streaked, often w/ thin postocular line; many white by late Feb. or with just hindneck streaking
UNDERPARTS: breast solid or splotchy med g-b; belly solid, fading into thickly barred or very dark undt covs; light barring on lower flanks throat, breast, and belly white w/ a few dark speckles, esp. on breast sides and along flanks white white
blackish blackish ... A-spots even or slightly decreasing in size; A7 slightly larger than eye; A10 same size as eye
(in flight):
dark above and below; slightly paler inner Ps form mild window dark outer Ps w/ pale inner Ps forming obvious window above and below med-large mirror on P10, usually separated from tip by very thin black line; small-med mirror on P9; black band to P5
(in flight):
blackish above and below w/ pale fringe dark above and below w/ pale fringe ... adult gray w/ white trailing edge; gray area shows slight contrast from below
TERTIALS: very dark g-b w/ faded pale tips; slightly lighter than Ps very dark g-b w/ irregular white marbling at tips; some may have adult gray ... adult gray w/ faded white crescent about 2/3 bill length
GREATER COVERTS: fairly solid dark g-b w/ extensive white fringe and subterm spots; may appear quite pale and spotted when standing, but a thin dark bar in flight; fade to pale brown g-b w/ extensive white marbling ... adult gray
LESSER & MED COVERTS: whitish w/ med g-b center or thick anchors, appearing irregularly checkered whitish w/ variable g-b centers or anchors; may be mixed w/ adult gray ... adult gray
SCAPULARS: juvenile: dark with pale edges; first alternate are 3-tone with adult gray w/ dark shaft line, variable dark g-b anchor or bar, and whitish fringe; juv solid g-b w/ pale fringe largely adult gray but w/ some g-b and white marks ... adult gray w/ small white crescent usually visible
BACK: as scaps; mostly adult gray by Mar adult gray w/ bits of g-b adult gray adult gray is med gray, w/ a flat gray, not bluish, hue; albert. is slightly paler
RUMP: heavily barred white white white
TAIL: solid black w/ pale fringe or subterm spots; may have barred outermost webs or barring at bases of outer retrices black w/ pale fringe and white basal portions of outer retrices ... white

The was table created by Steve Hampton and is intended to futher our knowledge of gull identification. Please email me at if you have any suggestions for updating or improving this table. Thanks.