A small, graceful gull, that shows a striking wing pattern in all plumages. Alternate Adult has grayish-black head, black bill with yellow tip, medium gray wings with black wingtips, white tail, and entirely white underparts. In flight, note unique wing pattern: black primaries and gray back separated by bright white triangle on trailing flight feathers. Basic Adult has limited gray hood with white forehead and throat. First-year birds are medium gray on back, with dull brown wings. Dark feathering on head is limited to a dusky gray patch behind the eye and paler gray on the nape and sides of neck. Juveniles are brown on the hindcrown, nape, sides of the neck and upper breast, back, and folded wings. Pale edgings to back and wing covert feathers create a scaly look. Forehead, face, and underparts are clean white. In flight, note black tail tip in juvenile; otherwise like adult.
Length: 34 (cm) Wingspan: 84 (cm)
Harsh, rough notes.
Open ocean; rarely seen from shore. Breeds on far northern lakes.
Flight is graceful, light, efficient. Breeds colonially. Nest is a ground depression lined with vegetation. Forms large flocks at sea; often observed on pelagic trips.
During the breeding season, forages on land for a variety of worms, insects, and other small organisms. At sea, eats mostly fish, picking prey from water's surface.
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