Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Mew Gull - Larus canus
LARIDAE Members:
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General Comments Though the Mew Gull is a very common bird both along the Pacific Coast of North America, and from northern Europe across Siberia, for whatever reason it is essentially absent in eastern North America. Called the Common Gull in the Old World, the race there (L. canus canus) is a slightly larger bird than is the race (L. canus brachyrhynchus) that breeds in Alaska and western Canada. Of the five reports for North Carolina, all from the coast in winter, four are considered to be of the Old World race and one of the North American race. This species is very similar to the Ring-billed Gull (and is that gull's "replacement" in Eurasia), and it usually occurs in flocks of that species when found in the Eastern states. However, observers must be exceedingly cautious about identification, especially of immature birds. In North Carolina, the Mew Gull feeds with Ring-billeds along the coast, probably mostly over the inshore ocean and at other tidal water, but birds are typically picked out only at rest, when they can be carefully compared with adjacent Ring-billeds.
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank SZ
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain Casual along the coast in winter. Five records: one adult of the European race, seen at Cape Hatteras Point, on 31 Dec 1980* [Chat 45:75-77 link]; one first-winter individual of the American race, seen on Ocracoke Island at Hatteras Inlet, on 27 Dec 1983* [Chat 48:94-95 link]; one adult of the European race photographed at Cape Hatteras Point on 19 Feb 1993* [Chat 59:24-25 link]; one first-winter bird of the European race seen at Cape Hatteras Point on 27 Dec 1995* [Chat 60:162 link]; and one adult at Cape Hatteras Point on 24 Jan 2009* [Chat 73:63 link].
Piedmont No records.
Mountains No records.
Finding Tips The species may be more frequent in NC than the five records indicate. Adult Mew Gulls are typically picked out from Ring-billeds by their somewhat darker mantle, the slightly smaller size, the smaller bill (which may or may not have some red or black near the tip), and dark eye. Identification of immatures must be done with great caution, with thorough details provided.
Attribution LeGrand[2018-02-01], LeGrand[2012-06-05], LeGrand[2011-12-04]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
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