Heermann's Gull

At the Northwest corner of San Francisco is Point Lobos. Just South of Point Lobos is Sutro Baths and the Cliff House Restaurant overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The magnificent view from the Cliff House includes the Seal Rocks just offshore.Cliff House and Seal Rocks San Francisco

The beach you see below the Cliff House in the photo above (credit Brocken Inaglory, Wikipedia Commons), is where I photographed these Heermann’s Gulls (Larus heermanni). Click on photos for full sized images.

Heermann's Gull

Heermann’s Gulls form large breeding colonies on arid islands in the Gulf of California, Mexico, from March through July. The largest colony exists on Isla Raza, where an estimated 90–95% of the total world population breeds1.

Heermann'sGull Range Map

Isla Rasa was declared a sanctuary in 1964, and egg-collecting and disturbance during the breeding season are discouraged. With the breeding colony concentrated on one small island this species is vulnerable to a catastrophic weather event. The success of the colony in any one year is dependent on the availability of prey and this is related to the ocean temperature changes brought about by El Niño. These factors have caused the IUCN to rate this bird as “Near Threatened”2.

Heermann's Gull

These photos of adults in non-breeding plumage were taken in late September but…

Heermann's Gull

The Heermann’s Gull is also known as the White-headed Gull. This photo by Basar from Wikipedia Commons shows the adult in breeding plumage.

Heermann's Gull in Breeding Plumage

Here are a couple of shots I took of a juvenile Heermann’s Gull on the beach.

Heermann's Gull Juvenile

 Heermann's Gull Juvenile

You know what one of my favorite things is about bird blogging? It’s all of the things I learn about different birds from researching to write posts. If you want to learn a lot about bird species, I find “Birds of North America Online” the best resource on the net.

Here’s one last look at the adult Heermann’s Gull landing on the beach in San Francisco.


References: 1Birds of North America Online, 2BirdLife International.

Written by Larry
Larry Jordan was introduced to birding after moving to northern California where he was overwhelmed by the local wildlife, forcing him to buy his first field guide just to be able to identify all the species visiting his yard. Building birdhouses and putting up feeders brought the avian fauna even closer and he was hooked. Larry wanted to share his passion for birds and conservation and hatched The Birder's Report in September of 2007. His recent focus is on bringing the Western Burrowing Owl back to life in California where he also monitors several bluebird trails. He is a BirdLife Species Champion and contributes to several other conservation efforts, being the webmaster for Wintu Audubon Society and the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Urban Bird Foundation. He is now co-founder of a movement to create a new revenue stream for our National Wildlife Refuges with a Wildlife Conservation Pass.