Gulls as a group can be difficult to correctly identify. Depending on the species, they can take two to four years to reach their adult plumage. To add to the challenge, they can molt several times a year giving them even more variety to their looks. There are 12 subject species in this group. Images include Bonaparte’s, California, Franklin’s, Glaucous-winged, Heerman’s, Herring, Laughing, Mew, Ring-billed, Western and Yellow-footed Gulls, and Long-tailed Jaeger (or Skua).
The Bonaparte's Gull is the smallest gull seen regularly in North America. They nest in Canada and Alaska, but winters are spent along the North American coast, lower Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes.
Glaucous-Winged Gulls are seldom found far from salt water. The breed along the west coast of North America from Washington to Alaska, and winter along most of the west coast of North America and Mexico.
The Heermann's Gull's story, along with the Elegant Tern's, is closely linked to a small, 142 acre island in the Gulf of California, called Isla Raza. Nearly 95% of all Heermann's Gulls are born there.
The Laughing Gull is predominantly a bird of the shores of the east coast and gulf waters of North America and southward into the Caribbean and the west coast of Mexico. These birds have been known to breed at the Salton Sea since 1997.
Not really a gull, the Long-Tailed Jaeger (or Long-Tailed Skua) is a a close enough relative as to be placed in this set. Jaegers (or skuas) are known as pirates who bully other sea birds into surrendering their catches mid flight.
The Ring-Billed Gull can be difficult to distinguish from the California Gull. Both breed in the interior of North America. The Ring-billed Gull will winter on both coasts and the prairies southward, where the California Gull winters only on the west coast.