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Franklin's Gull - BirdForum Opus

Photo by Doug Greenberg
Lake Merritt, Oakland, California, May 2005

Leucophaeus pipixcan

Larus pipixcan


Photo by Robert_Scanlon
Puerto Viejo, south of Lima, Peru, January 2005

32–38 cm (12½-15 in)
One of two North American dark-backed hooded gulls.
Field marks include
dark, almost slate colored back,
large white primary tips,
small bill (not as small as Black-headed),
broad eye-arcs,
and extensive hood (in all plumages).

Juveniles have whitish neck (versus gray neck of Laughing Gull).

Similar species

1st Winter
Photo by Paul Hackett
Radipole Lake Weymouth, Dorset, March 2004

Bonaparte's Gull is smaller with much lighter gray back, smaller black bill (in all plumages), and with almost no white on primary tips.
Black-headed Gull is slightly larger with much lighter gray back, less extensive hood, and with mostly no white to primary tips.
Laughing Gull is a slightly larger dark-backed hooded gull with smaller white primary tips, much more extensive black in wingtips when flying, narrower eye-arcs, and relatively longer drooped bill (usually thicker than Franklin's).


Breeds mostly in the northern prairie states of the USA and southern Canada, migrates to (mostly) the pacific coast of South America. Vagrancy: Casual to rare vagrant to the eastern United States and Canada. Accidental vagrant to Great Britain.


Non-Breeding Plumage
Photo © by Stanley Jones
Lake Waco, Texas, USA, 1 November 2019

This is a monotypic species[1], which is sometimes placed in genus Larus.


Mainly on prairie marshes - rarely seen on the coast.


Non-breeding plumage
Photo by BirdsPeru
Costa Verde, Lima, Peru, November 2004




A shrill kuk-kuk-kuk or soft krruk.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Collins Field Guide 5th Edition
  3. Collins Bird Guide ISBN 0 00 219728 6
  4. Burger, J. and M. Gochfeld (2020). Franklin's Gull (Leucophaeus pipixcan), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.fragul.01

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1