Larus glaucescens: Glaucous-winged gull– The Race Rocks taxonomy

gullfeedLarus glaucescens is omnivorous, feeding on carrion, fish, invertebrates, seaweed and food stolen from other birds. One of the main sources of food for Glaucous-winged gull are the softer bodied invertebrates exposed during the low tide time at Race Rocks. It is also typical of their behavior to take their hard shelled food, such as clams, or gastropods and drop them onto rocks to break them open for eating.

This species is the only species of gull that nests on Great Race Rock. From June to September, there could be over 150 nests on the island. The adults also overwinter at Race Rocks, but occasionally disappear from the islands for a few weeks. They start their complicated behaviours aimed at establishing territories and bonding with mates as early as February or March. Their eggs are laid in June and hatching takes place in early July. In the 2002 season, 100 birds fledged successfully, after several years of failed nesting, probably due to fish shortages in the surrounding waters.

In September, the clean looking feathers of the neck and head take on a mottled gray appearance as they undergo an annual moult.

The following pictures were taken by Ecoguardian Christine Ouradou in July of 2016 and appear in logs from that time.

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gulljuvenIn this picture by Evan Ferrari , the young juveniles, capable of flight, still hang around for a daily feeding from their parent

Domain: Eukarya
Kingdom :Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum :Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family :Laridae
Genus: Larus
Species :glaucescens
Common Name:  Glaucous-Winged Gull

The Glaucous winged Gull,
In June of 2000, David Mesiha and Satoshi Kimura (PC yr 25) made videos of different aspects of gull behavior while staying on the island. Thus started the archiving of videos for

June 1-16 : Aggression between males is frequent. This takes the form of plucking grass in a standoff and in beak pulling. In this way territories are defined as the nests are being built.

May 1: Breeding in the colony has started and will continue throughout May and June.

This video was taken in early July, 2001, from the north window of the Marine Science centre at Race Rocks. It shows the second day in the life of a sea gull chick. The parents feed the chick a small fish, probably herring or needlefish.
In June, 2016,  Lester Pearson College set up a live camera to follow the development of one of the Glaucous-winged Gull nests with eggs in the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve . Also the camera had infrared night vision.

All entries on this website tagged with Glaucous-winged gull

Other Members of the Class Aves at Race Rocks.

taxonomyiconReturn to the Race Rocks Taxonomy
and Image File
pearsonlogo2_f2The Race Rocks taxonomy is a collaborative venture originally started with the Biology and Environmental Systems students of Lester Pearson College UWC. It now also has contributions added by Faculty, Staff, Volunteers and Observers on the remote control webcams.

Original text by Juan Pablo Hoffmaister, PC student Dec. 2001

Equipment check up


West light wind in the morning,visibility:over 10 miles,sky :clear. In the afternoon the wind increased strongly to 35 knots at 9:PM and still 33 knots at 10:00 .In the evening fog and fog horn on.Water temperature :12.2 and salinity:30.4. Dusk before 9:30 PM.(1/2 h sooner than a month ago). Phenomenal sunset with some fog on the sea and some lightning on dark grey sky and a rainbow later!


Only 8 sea lions  and 2 elephant seals :the bigger one and a small female (Chunck is gone) 5 geese visiting.


Heavy US navy boat going to the ocean. Watching boats.


kyle and Jeff from the college came to make a general check up of all the equipment on the rock:hydro,water,security,roofs,electricity,propane,cisterns…They went all around and took notes.


Filling up of the seawater cistern:4 hours

Census Day and fishing activity in the ecological reserve


Calm Summer day


Where are gone so many gulls and why?


6 kayakers between Vancouver Island shore and Race Rocks (half distance )with a  rescue Zodiac in case.4 First nations big canoes 2 under sails and one with oars between East Sooke and the States with  some rescue power boats. 1st watching vessels at 9:30AM .In the afternoon around 3:30PM ,3 people in a small power boat were fishing in the ecological reserve.From south rocks to the middle passage ,with the engine in  neutral position,they went through  the passage 2 times .The guy was fishing with a short rod and we saw one of the women with a mackerel size fish in her hand . It took them 15min to go through  . Because of the aggressive gulls all around we couldn’t go but we took all the references and phoned to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.They left in the Victoria direction and pretty soon to Pedder Bay at full speed.

DND activity

Extensive activity for the DND Today; 14 blasts and the 4 last one were huge .


Elephant seals :2

Gulls: 390 mainly adults glaucous winged gulls, a few Heermann’s gulls only

Harbour seal:s 70 + many swimming newborns ones

Harlequin ducks:1



Cormorants :0

River otters:0

Gull chicks:50 to 60 from the front window.

geese :0

Seashore birds : 4

Orcas: around 10 (seen close enough)






Check up for the whaler


West lo southwest light winds under 20 knots have been on  almost all the time since last week. We got some fog and the fog horn running the whole night between Sunday and Monday to a stop at 8:30 in the morning.The rest of the day was sunny with a flat sea…DSC_0191


At low tide the water was pretty far discovering an interesting world of rocks covered with fresh algae. We could count only 4 sea lions (Steelers) around and 60 chickens seen from the front window. If we compare with last year we had 110 sea lions and 87 chickens from the front window .What a different situation.Last year the first one on the jetty came on the 23rd.We will see …the usual 4 elephant seals are most of the time sleeping on Main Rock and the babies are growing fast. Not so much drama I guess because they have enough space but the gulls closed to the path are still defensive and this night a new one was born with 2 more coming (the last ones )so it’s going to be even more difficult to go the jetty! No new dead birds.(only 3 to now ) On Sunday we could count more than 16 whale watching vessels  way beyond the green boyd because of a long pod of orcas.DSC_0217DSC_0220


Guy changed the boat pump for a more efficient one.It was 360 GPM and now it’s 750. He left in the fog early on Monday because of an appointment with a Yamaha specialist. At the college they took the whaler off the water and put it on a trailer.We took the zodiac until the trailer is ready. Camera 3 has been stoppedDSC_0194


3 times this week we had a plane above. Watching boats like usual.



Summer days


We have a really nice weather in this middle July weekend.Light west winds ,no fog, sea calm.


We found 3 dead birds (2 gulls ans 1 pigeon – Guillemot) and it looked like it was the result of the river otter ‘s work…Eagles are active and always ready perched on the adjacent Rocks but with so many birds they can’t be efficient…No geese anymore and the small seashore birds are gone too. The kelp is growing like crazy and Chris with 2nd nature had to cut it to give us a free passage DSC_0129DSC_0131


We had a contact with Amatuana going to Sooke on Thursday afternoon. On Friday we saw around the coast guard vessel and on Saturday a small fishing boat had some problems. It honked a few times and I realized that it was not a simple engine problem . At that moment the sea was like a mirror and no current (Slack time) .They were at around 200 meters from the jetty where I was drawing so I rushed to the house to inform Guy . As soon as possible  we put the boat out of the house and down in the railway but in the meantime a power boat arrived and a guy took the control and the two boats rushed to Pedder bay I guess. Half an hour later when I phoned to the marina they were not aware of a critical situation so I am still wondering what was exactly the matter.



Important visitors from Pearson College


Calm first days of the week .On Tuesday only the wind increased a little in the late evening to  reach 30 knots  Now the sunset is around 9:00.


Good fishing days for the gulls colony. We definitively have a big number of Heermann gulls .The 2 bigger elephant seals are spending more time in waters maybe because the ride is easier ,now that they have lost weight. CSC_0187DSC_0056 DSC_0163DSC_0207


We had the pleasure to welcome the new Vice – President of Operations  and Administration of Pearson College Tyrone Pyle. He came for a visit on the Rocks and  the Director of Operations Chris Blondeau  did the tour with him.

DND activity

For the 1st time we had 10 blasts in the morning ,last one around 1:30 . One of the blast was huge .


Some beautiful sailboats from the States these days . 1 diving boat from Ogden Point with 3 Divers spent around 45mn and were like usual very closed to main on East side.  DSC_0018CSC_0030DSC_0022


Harbour seals:196

Elephant seals :4

Eagles :4


Pigeons-Guillemot :70



Oystercatchers: 3 or 4 couples +babies (not seen today)

Seashore birds :Black Turnstones :30


+a few very small ones

Crows :1

River otter:1

Sea Lions :0



Woaw!So many gulls to count!?


At 5:00 AM :West wind 15 knots ,choppy sea , clear sky and visibility 10 miles. the whole was calm and just a few drops of rain in the afternoon


3 elephant seals came back from swimming early in the morning .(the big males are losing a lot of weight). Like everyone around the elephants are tired of the permanent cries and aggressivity of the seagulls. and with the chicks around it’s getting worse.Even for us : we have 4 nests very closed to the path ,between the main house and the boat shed.. it’s always an adventure and they got me 2 times ! Hopefully I wore a helmet and I even don’t speak about those white splashes on my coat! Hatching is done almost for all the nests and some babies are already pretty big . it ‘s going fast.Today it was the census day and going to the top of the lighthouse ,we couldn’t stop smilling at the idea of counting so many birds ! looked like a joke! but with the small device we use, we managed to have a number.(1200)  We think that we have at least 2 kinds of gulls around. It’s really a dilemma even if you look at books .So to make things easier I look mainly at feet and beaks: so you have red beak and black feet (white head and black feathers ):those should be Heermann gulls and the whitish feet and black beak :one or 2 years young ones ?..The glaucous winged are easy to recognize (adults and young ones). Last year we had almost only those ones in Summer.This year it’s a mix of different ones and if they fit really well ,they stay together in groups .DSC_7529DSC_0378DSC_0320DSC_0353



We have now 620 liters of diesel in the student house . Guy put 400 liters more. the 6 barrels are empty ready to be filled up another time for Winter.The yellow tank (generator)is also full.


Many watching boats .

Abundant waters


The weekend has been a calm one ,except on Sunday where in the afternoon the wind increased to almost 40 knots .We got some rain on Saturday ; which is good for the island (cleaning) and in the afternoon the sky was overcast and a dark grey colour !DSC_0203


Lately the difference between high and low tide is not big, from 4 feet to 8 and as a result the sea temperature is higher, above 12 degrees . It’s amazing to see all those flocks of birds fishing  all around .We even found a ball of small heering on the balcony…the smell coming inside the house was just as if we had opened a huge sardine can!


Guy put 3 barrels of gasoil in the main house cistern ( 600 liters).It’s now full (1000l).Solar panels needed attention (LOL) and some sweeping had to be done , grass plucked by the gulls for their nests. We did some light proof curtains for the main bedroom. It will be appreciated by the eco -guardians community especially in Summer time . It’s clear at 4:20 in June without speaking when it’s the full moon!


Watching boats like usual and an helicoptere (Coast guards )just above ,freaking out the birds.