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Gull Facts | Iceland Wildlife Guide

Gulls are among the world’s most familiar birds. Although these long-winded, soaring birds are often called seagulls, some varieties have individuals that travel thousands of miles from the ocean. Other gulls, like the kittiwake, are seldom seen near the coast after breeding season. Young gulls go through a series of color pattern changes between hatching and adulthood, and some gulls have different winter and summer plumage.

Though these seabirds typically frequent the coast, gulls that mate in regions at high latitudes such as Iceland, Antarctica, and Greenland, migrate vast distances over the open ocean during the winter.

Gulls are adept fliers, possessing a set of broad, expansive wings. Their webbed feet allow them to navigate ocean waters with ease.

Gulls are opportunistic feeders, eating a wide variety of foods. They are predatory birds, catching live crabs and fish. They are also scavengers, and will frequently trail human vessels in hopes of mulling through discarded waste. In fact, many gull populations and their ranges have increased from living off garbage. These seabirds collect food on land or on the water’s surface, rarely diving beneath the water due to their buoyant bodies.

The great black-backed gull is the world’s largest gull, weighing over 4 pounds. They are hunters and scavengers and adapt well to a variety of habitats, including those dominated by humans. At one time they were hunted to for their feathers, but since the early 20th century their global numbers have increased steadily.
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