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Marshbirds and Shorebirds of North Dakota

Gulls and Terns


Family Laridae

Gulls are a large, widespread group often called seagulls even though many species nest inland. Gulls often use updrafts of air to soar over large expanses of water. Gulls will eat almost anything and are useful scavengers around beaches, harbors, and garbage dumps. Terns are generally smaller than gulls and inhabit seacoasts, marshes, and interior lakes and rivers. Terns are more selective about their diet than are gulls and often fly with constant wing beats. Both gulls and terns have webbed feet, but terns seldom swim because their feet are too small and weak to propel their bodies through the water. Members of the family Laridae that nest in North Dakota include the Franklin's gull, ring-billed gull, common tern, Forster's tern, least tern, and black tern. The herring gull and Bonaparte's gull may be seen in North Dakota during seasonal migrations.


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