discover the significance of the seagull as a powerful symbol of the sea and sky in this captivating exploration of nature and freedom.

The Seagull: A Symbol of the Sea and Sky

GardenBy May 17, 2024

The Majestic Seagull: A Symbol of the Sea and Sky

The seagull, also known as the Larus marinus, is a captivating marine bird that is commonly found along the coastlines of France. While often mistaken for seagulls, seagulls are a distinct species characterized by their distinctive cries. Derived from the Breton word “gouélan” meaning “to cry,” seagulls have a unique and characteristic song that sets them apart from other birds.

A Variety of Seagulls

Belonging to the larid family, seagulls encompass a wide range of species. The most commonly seen seagulls along the French coastline include the Goéland cendré, Goéland brun, Goéland leucoptére, Goéland argenté, Goéland leucophée, and the Goéland marin, which is the largest of them all. In this article, we will primarily focus on the Goéland marin and its symbolism in the sea and sky.

The Grace and Elegance of the Goéland Marin

The Goéland marin, also known as Larus marinus, is the largest species within the Larus genus. The Goéland marin typically measures between 61 cm to 75 cm in length, with a wingspan ranging from 152 cm to 167 cm. On average, they weigh around 1,150 kg to 2,300 kg. This majestic bird is easily recognized by its contrasting black and white plumage. While its head, chest, belly, and tail feathers are white, its back and wings are mostly black, bordered by white. Its yellow beak is distinct and is accompanied by a small red spot on the lower mandible. The Goéland marin’s pale pink webbed feet complete its elegant appearance.

The juvenile Goéland marin, on the other hand, has a mottled gray-brown plumage. As they mature, their juvenile plumage fades, giving way to the striking black and white plumage of the adult. Additionally, their beaks darken from dark gray to yellow. It is common to confuse the Goéland marin with the Goéland brun, as their plumage is quite similar. However, the Goéland brun is smaller and more slender in comparison, distinguishing it from the Goéland marin. The Goéland marin’s feet are also pink, whereas the Goéland brun has yellow feet.

Distinguishing Seagulls from Gulls

Seagulls are often mistakenly identified as seagulls, as they share similar characteristics and habitats. However, there are subtle differences between the two. Firstly, seagulls are larger in size. The Goéland marin, being the largest, can have an impressive wingspan of nearly 1.70 meters. In contrast, the average wingspan of a seagull ranges from 37 cm to 43 cm only.

Another distinguishing feature is their plumage. The Goéland marin has a predominantly white head, chest, belly, and tail feathers, with a black or gray back. Seagulls, on the other hand, have a dark or white head with black or gray markings above their eyes. The Goéland marin’s beak is long and thick, and its webbed feet are yellow (or pink in the case of the Goéland marin), while seagulls consistently have red feet.

In flight, the Goéland marin can be recognized by its distinct W-shaped wings, whereas seagulls have smaller, triangular wings. Lastly, seagulls are known for their raucous cries, while seagulls have louder and more strident calls. The Goéland marin, in particular, has a unique and unmistakable call that sets it apart from other gulls.

The Seagull’s Habitat and Distribution

In France, seagulls can predominantly be found along the western coastlines, with occasional sightings in the Mediterranean region. They nest on cliffs, beaches, dunes, and other coastal areas. However, seagulls also venture inland, particularly in urban areas near rivers or where they can find food sources such as household waste.

Specifically, the Goéland marin is diurnal and gregarious, preferring to stay close to the coast. They frequent estuaries, ports, and public dumps in proximity to the coastline. Breeding pairs of Goéland marin often settle in sheltered rocky areas for nesting. This species primarily inhabits the Atlantic coast of France, with a preference for Normandy, Brittany, and Loire-Atlantique. However, some individuals have been observed along the Mediterranean coast as well.

Seagulls can also be found in other parts of the world, including northwest Russia, Scandinavia, the Baltic Sea coasts, the United Kingdom, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Canada, and the United States.

An Omnivorous Diet

Seagulls have an omnivorous diet, consisting of seafood such as fish and crustaceans, as well as earthworms and household waste. The Goéland marin, being a skilled predator, also preys on other bird species and their eggs, as well as small mammals like rodents, rabbits, rats, and mice to satisfy its voracious appetite. They can even scavenge for carrion. The Goéland leucophée, in particular, has successfully adapted to human presence and can be found in urban areas foraging at waste disposal sites.

Reproduction of Seagulls

Depending on their species and nesting preferences, seagulls build their nests on rocky promontories, in sand, or between rocks. The Goéland marin constructs its nest using dry algae, grass, and various vegetation. In spring, the female seagull lays between two to three eggs, which both the male and female incubate for approximately 25 to 29 days. After hatching, the young seagulls take flight between 5 to 8 weeks.

Rate this post


I'm Jennifer. My hands are often covered in soil, and my heart is full of passion for nature. Through my writings, I share my personal gardening journeys, tips, and the joy of cultivating both plants and a community of fellow garden lovers. Every plant I grow adds a story to my life, and I love sharing those tales with my readers.