Franklin’s Gull

(Leucophaeus pipixcan)

Conservation Status
Franklin’s Gull
Photo by Luciearl
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


N4B - Apparently Secure Breeding

S3B - Vulnerable Breeding


Special Concern

Species in Greatest Conservation Need


During breeding season the head is black with a broken white eye ring. In nonbreeding season the head is white with a dark gray patch that extends around the eyes and the back of the head. The back of the neck is white. The bill and legs are orangish-red.

The back and uppersides of the wings (mantle) is dark gray. The underparts are white. The primary wing feathers have a white band and limited black tips which appear as a black crescent on white wingtips when in flight. When at rest the wingtips appear black with large white spots. The underside of the wing white and unmarked except for the limited black wingtips and white band.




13 to 15in length

36 wingspan





Similar Species


Bonaparte’s Gull (Chroicocephalus philadelphia) wing upperside has a conspicuous white wedge near the tip, visible when in flight. The bill is black

Laughing Gull (Larus atricilla) is larger. The legs are black. Non-breeding adults lack the dark gray patch around the eyes and head.


Breeding: Large prairie marshes with areas of open water

Migration: Agricultural fields, pastures, landfills, marshes, shores of rivers and lakes




Late March to mid-May and late July to late November








Grasshoppers, dragonflies, earthworms; mice; small fish; crustaceans; and sometimes seeds.




Common and at times abundant migrant in the western and central counties, rare to uncommon or irregular migrant elsewhere.




The Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union All Seasons Species Occurrence Map

  Class Aves (birds)  


Charadriiformes (shorebirds and allies)  


Laridae (gulls, terns, and skimmers)  


Larinae (gulls)  


Leucophaeus (hooded gulls)  

This species was formerly placed in the genus Larus. Mitochondrial DNA analysis of all gull (family Laridae) species in 2005 (Pons J.M.; Hassanin, A.; Crochet P.A. [2005]) supported rearranging the Laridae into ten species. Franklin’s Gull and four other gulls were placed in the “hooded” species genus Leucophaeus.




Larus pipixcan











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Several hundred of these were in our bay this afternoon. They are not the typical Gull we see on the lake, so possibly migrating through?

  Franklin’s Gull  







Franklin's Gull
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren

  Franklin's Gull  

Franklin's Gull
JMC Nature Photos

  Franklin's Gull  



Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Franklin's Gull (Laridae: Larus pipixcan)
Carl Barrentine

Published on May 13, 2013

Franklin's Gulls face a gale-force prairie wind on a freshly-plowed field. Photographed at Grand Forks, North Dakota (13 May 2013).

  GAVIOTA DE FRANKLIN (Leucophaeus pipixcan)
Juan Tassara

Uploaded on Nov 25, 2010

Migratoria. Anida en el hemisferio norte. Durante el invierno boreal migra hacia el hemisferio sur, pudiendo versele en Chile en grandes cantidades, especialmente en costas arenosas y desembocaduras de rios, entre Octubre y Abril. Tambien hacia las zonas interiores siguiendo los cursos de agua.

Google translation: Immigration . It nests in the northern hemisphere. During the winter migrates to the southern hemisphere, may Versele in Chile in large quantities, especially in sandy shores and river mouths , between October and April . Also to inland areas following the waterways.

  Franklin's gull. South Padre Island

Published on Apr 15, 2015

Recorded at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center on 2015-03-31
Leucophaeus pipixcan
Gaviota de Franklin (Spanish)
If you want to watch similar bird and other wildlife videos go to my YouTube channel at

  Frankiln's Gull (Laridae: Larus pipixcan) Feeding
Carl Barrentine

Uploaded on May 10, 2010

Photographed at Kellys Slough NWR, North Dakota (09 May 2010).

Penny Clarke

Published on Aug 15, 2014

James McCallum watched this mega gull fly into roost on Pat's Pool from Teal Hide, Cley NWT at 8.23pm this evening. Took this video at 8.31pm, after phoning RBA and then three friends. A lifer for me!




Visitor Sightings

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Location: Gull Lake, Lake Shore, MN

Several hundred of these were in our bay this afternoon. They are not the typical Gull we see on the lake, so possibly migrating through?

Franklin’s Gull

  John Valo

According to The Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union All Seasons Species Occurrence Map, Franklin’s Gull is rare or absent in Cass County except in the fall, when they are uncommon. According to Birds of Minnesota and Wisconsin (Jannssen et al., 2003), it is a common migrant through most of the state from late March to mid-May.


Location: Gull Lake, Lake Shore, MN

I've been on Gull Lake for nearly 60 yrs.  Gulls are common, so don't pay too much attention to them.  I was out in our pontoon this past weekend. I pointed out a gull with a black head to my husband because I dont recall seeing one before.  It was floating around near us before taking off.  Happen to see the name on your web site.  It's also my son's name.  Do you always visit state parks?  Would you visit Fritz Loven Park? Or do they have to be larger?

  John Valo

I sometimes visit city and county parks when they are recommended to me...

If this is one of your favorite parks, consider uploading some photos of the park (signs, facilities, lakes, trails, scenery, etc.), and I will create a page for it on







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