Inland Gulls

Most Americans associate gulls with coastal beaches, seaports and, perhaps, the Great Lakes. However, gulls are fairly common inland, sometimes far from any large body of water.

California, Franklin's and ring-billed gulls are common summer residents in the Mountain and Great Basin States of the West and a variety of gulls visit the interior during the colder months. Herring and ring-billed gulls are the most common winter gulls in the Midwest, usually congregating on reservoirs or along the larger rivers; scavengers, these species also gather at landfills and restaurant parking lots. Uncommon but regular visitors include Thayer's, glaucous and black-backed gulls; these wanderers are usually seen in small numbers, mingling with their more common cousins.

Some of the best places to see a variety of winter gulls are the major dams along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. There, the gulls usually gather beneath the dam, snatching fish that are stunned by the turbulent flow. This opportunistic behavior is also seen in bald eagles, another common winter visitor at these sites.