Gulls, often referred to as "seagulls," are a group of birds belonging to the family Laridae. According to Seattle Audubon's Bird Web, "The family Laridae is made up of birds closely associated with water. Distributed throughout the world, representatives of this family nest on every continent, including Antarctica.

Clutch size is generally small, varying from one to four eggs. Both parents incubate the eggs and help feed the young. The young typically hatch covered with down and stay in the nest for a few days, after which they leave the nest but stay nearby. Most, especially in Washington, raise a single brood a year. This group is known for its elaborate displays in the air and on the ground."

There are more than a dozen gull species in Washington State. They are especially numerous on the outer coast and on the shores of Puget Sound, but many can be found further inland on lakes, ponds and along rivers.

Gull diets vary, but fish, crustaceans, mollusks, other aquatic invertebrates and dead animals comprise a large part of the diet of most species. Many gull species are very tolerant of human activity and congregate in large numbers on pilings, breakwaters, roofs of buildings, and other human-created structures near water.

Solving and preventing conflicts

Most conflicts with gulls involve their roosting where they are not wanted. Gulls are relatively large birds and their droppings are not insignificant. Even a few gulls perching regularly on the roof of a house can add a layer of undesirable whitewash to the roof in a fairly short period of time.

Gulls are also very vocal, and when gathered in large numbers they are capable of disturbing the sleep, or general peace and quiet for humans.

Eliminate roosting sites

The most effective way to avoid conflicts with gulls is to eliminate roosting sites, or make your property unappealing to the birds. If you property is near the water, this can be a challenge.

  • If the birds are simply using the peak of a roof, deterrents such as bird spikes can be installed to make the perch less desirable.
  • If they are utilizing an area that is too extensive to be covered by spikes, try visual deterrents, sonic emitters or other annoyance tactics such as spraying the birds with a hose when they try to land.
  • CAUTION: Avoid using gels or other sticky and tacky products that are advertised as bird repellents. More often than not, the birds do not see these greasy substances until they land on them. PAWS receives birds every year who suffer tremendously because their feathers have become coated after landing in these substances.

Do not attract gulls

In addition to eliminating roosting sites, don't intentionally or unintentionally attract gulls.

  • Never purposely feed gulls. Putting out bread, French fries or other human foods for gulls is not only unhealthy for the birds, but it attracts them in large numbers. Birds who get used to being fed in an area will frequent that area, likely roosting on nearby roofs or structures.
  • Deny gulls access to unnatural food sources on your property, such as your garbage. Gulls do not generally knock over garbage cans, but they may pick through an uncovered can or take advantage of a can that has been knocked over by a dog or other animal.
  • Dispose of trash in secure, metal cans with tight-fitting lids.
  • Secure lids further with a bungee cord or chain, or store in a locked shed.
  • Do not put food of any kind in open compost piles.
  • Bury food in an underground composter or put it into a lidded worm box (read more about composting from Seattle Tilth).

More information

Sign Up for PAWS E-newsletters!

Contact Information

* denotes a required field

Which regular PAWS Newsletters would you like to receive?

Please check all that apply

E-mail this Page

E-mail this Page

Like what you see? Send a link to this page via e-mail. We respect your privacy. Neither you nor your friend will be added to PAWS’ mailing list.

Security Code

Thank you!

Your message has been sent.

Note: We will do our best to respond to your email on the next weekday. For an immediate answer, please give us a call.


I'm sorry, your message was not sent. Double-check your security code. If this error persists, please contact us at (425) 787-2500 or

Fatal Error

I'm sorry, there was a fatal error sending your message. We cannot process your request at this time. please contact our support team at (425) 787-2500 or