What Are the Different Kinds of Seagulls?

Konstantinos Dafalias/Flickr/CC-BY-2.0

There are dozens of types of gulls with habitats that span much of the globe. Gulls are only informally referred to as seagulls since many gull species actually live and nest inland, but, regardless of their habitats, all species of gulls are closely related.

The herring gull is arguably the most common species of gull. They have a wide range that covers most of North America and western Europe. Herring gulls are characterized by their large size, gray backs and spotted wingtips.

The lesser seen black-backed gull is similar in appearance to the herring gull and has an exceptionally wide range as well, especially in recent years. This gull is divided into several subspecies, but most of the individuals found in North America and Europe are originally from Iceland.

Another common type of gull is the laughing gull, named for its unusual call. The laughing gull is usually found on the east coast of the United States and spends its winters in the Caribbean.

There are dozens of other gull species, ranging from the huge Pacific gull to the dainty black-legged kittiwake gull. Most gulls belong to the genus Larus, but the taxonomy of gulls is often confusing due to hybridization.