Gulls are seabirds. They are most closely related to the terns, and more distantly to the waders, auks and skimmers. The term gull refers to members of a group of 23 North American bird species that belong to the family Laridae, subfamily Larinae. Description Gulls are found across the country as far north as Alaska. Typically spending the majority of their time along the coasts, gulls prefer areas close to water because they nest, feed, and breed there. Though the birds are generally associated with the sea, populations of gulls can be found inland as well, especially near lakes and rivers. Appearance As seabirds, gulls have webbed feet and are often seen swimming and diving. They have long wings and beaks that appear slightly hooked. Varying in color, adult gulls are typically white with different patterns of gray and black along the back, head, and wings. Young herring gulls are mottled brown in appearance until they acquire the usual adult plumage, which occurs after four years. Depending on the species, gulls range in size from 6 ounces all the way to 3 or 4 pounds. Habitat Gulls live and reproduce in coastal areas, though they can also be found farther inland near bodies of water. The two most common species of gulls found in North America, the herring and ring-billed gulls, have a wide distribution and live in farm fields, metropolitan areas, and the unsettled countryside. In urban areas, gulls will nest on rooftops, in or around landfills, and in parking lots, though they prefer to have access to standing water. Entry Are gulls known to enter homes or yards? When searching for new sources of food, gulls may nest on rooftops and enter areas of human habitation. The birds are attracted to collections of garbage and other easily obtainable resources. People who intentionally feed gulls only encourage the birds to roost. Damage Do gulls harm people or property? The seabird causes damage to both homes and businesses. Gulls nest on rooftops in urban areas, leaving behind droppings that can carry various harmful bacteria. The birds are also involved in numerous collisions with airplanes each year, which compromises the safety of passengers. Gulls peck at structures and feed on crops and food intended for livestock, as well. Control and Safety Modifying possible gull habitats is a way to prevent the birds from populating the same areas as people. Install wire or plastic netting over reservoirs, crops, and landfills to discourage and exclude gulls from the area. Using spikes in areas where the bird would prefer to perch also works as a deterrent. Decoys, amplifiers, certain scents, and the presence of dogs can help keep gull populations under control, as well. Trapping and Removal Trained wildlife removal specialists utilize their knowledge, skills, and appropriate tools to help eliminate gull problems humanely, especially if modification or exclusion methods fail. Removal of nests, eggs, and young may be effective, though relocation tends to fail, as gulls just return over time. Since the birds are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, shooting and killing gulls is forbidden unless done so by a trained professional with the correct permits. We can help you get rid of gull problems. Call today: 1.800.274.8837.