Herring Gulls in Northern Utah

Herring Gull flying over Bear River MBRHerring Gull flying over Bear River MBR – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/6400, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

In my post yesterday on Ring-billed Gulls at Bear River MBR I mentioned that there were other species of gulls near the open water on the refuge on that cold January morning this year.

We do see Herring Gulls in northern Utah during the winter and I was able to photograph this one as it circled over the water with the snow-covered Promontory Mountains and sky behind it. Herring Gulls do not breed in northern Utah but they do migrate through this area and some of them will even over winter here.

Winter Herring Gull in UtahWinter Herring Gull in Utah – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/4000, ISO 500, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Herring Gulls are a bit larger than the California Gulls that are common here in Utah plus Herring Gulls have light colored eyes where the California’s typically have dark eyes. There are other differences of course but when I am scanning winter gulls I look for eye colors and size differences first then look for other differences after that. That is just me though and gulls are notoriously challenging to ID because they have so many plumage phases and that can be confusing.

I was happy to spot this Herring Gull among the Ring-billed and California Gulls near the open water  or perched on a shelf of ice. For some people a gull is a gull is a gull but I like to keep an eye out for the gulls that aren’t as common here in northern Utah.

Life is good.



  1. Utahbooklover November 2, 2016 at 9:04 am

    Nice images and helpful information to keep in mind since I see them a lot here.

  2. Elephant's Child November 1, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    I am glad that your confidence in the goodness of life has returned.

  3. Liz Cormack November 1, 2016 at 10:17 am

    How do you tell a Ring-Billed Gull from a Herring Gull? To me they both look the same….same dark marks on the bills & both have white eyes. But, regardless, beautiful in-flight photos

  4. Patty Chadwick November 1, 2016 at 9:04 am

    These beautiful, graceful images remind me of that wonderful, inspiring book, JONATHON LIVINGSTON SEAGULL…they make you want to fly and swoop and soar like they do! One of my favorite real-life images, is that of a flock of gulls, backlit by strong sunlight, the light shining through and illuminating their wings…

Comments are closed.