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28 Birds that Look Like Seagulls (A to Z List with Pictures)

28 Birds that Look Like Seagulls

Examples of birds that look like seagulls include Aleutian tern, arctic tern, black skimmer, black tern, and black-bellied tern.

Birds that look like seagulls can be found in coastal areas all over the world. While these birds share some similarities with seagulls, they also have important differences.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most common birds that are mistaken for seagulls. We’ll also discuss the differences between these species and seagulls, so you can better identify them in the future.

Examples of Birds that Look Like Seagulls

1. Aleutian Tern

Aleutian Tern
Scientific NameOnychoprion aleuticus
Type of AnimalBird
Rangearound the Bering Sea and nearby waters, including much of the southern Alaskan coast and Aleutian Islands

The Aleutian Tern is a small bird that is found in coastal areas of Alaska and Russia. These birds are similar in size and shape to seagulls, but they have a black cap on their head.

2. Arctic Tern

Arctic Tern
Scientific NameSterna paradisaea
Type of AnimalBird
RangeAntarctica

The Arctic tern is a small bird that is commonly found in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. These birds have long wings and short tails, which helps them to glide gracefully over the water. They also have a black cap on their head, which is often mistaken for a seagull’s head.

3. Black Skimmer

Black Skimmer
Scientific NameRynchops niger
Type of AnimalBird
Rangecoastal areas in Florida such as estuaries, beaches, and sandbars

The Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) is a seabird that is found in coastal areas of North and South America. It gets its name from its black upperparts and white underparts. The Black Skimmer has a long, thin beak that it uses to skim the water for fish.

4. Black Tern

Black-Naped Tern
Scientific NameChlidonias niger
Type of AnimalBird
RangeFlorida and California

The Black Tern is a small bird that is found in marshy areas across North America. These birds have black feathers and a white belly. They also have a forked tail.

While they may look similar to seagulls, Black Terns are much smaller. They also don’t have the same kind of webbed feet that seagulls do.

5. Black-Bellied Tern

Black-Bellied Tern
Scientific NameSterna acuticauda
Type of AnimalBird
RangeBangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan; formerly also found in Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam

The black-bellied tern is a small bird that is found in coastal areas of the Americas. This bird has a black belly and upper parts, with white underparts. The black-bellied tern also has a black cap and a white forehead.

This species is often mistaken for a seagull, due to its similar coloration. However, the black-bellied tern is much smaller than most seagulls, and it has a different call.

6. Black-Legged Kittiwake

Black-Legged Kittiwake
Scientific NameRissa tridactyla
Type of AnimalBird
Rangenorthern oceans

This small, white bird is found in coastal areas of the northern hemisphere. Black-legged kittiwakes have black markings on their wings and legs, and they are often seen flying near cliffs or other tall structures.

Black-legged kittiwakes are much smaller than seagulls, and they have black markings on their wings and legs.

7. Bridled Tern

Bridled Tern
Scientific NameOnychoprion anaethetus
Type of AnimalBird
Rangethe tropics and subtropics

The Bridled Tern is a type of seabird that can be found in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. This bird gets its name from the distinctive black band that runs across its eyes.

Bridled Terns are slightly larger than most gull species, with a wingspan of about 50 cm (20 inches). These birds are primarily white, with grey wings and a black tail.

8. Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern
Scientific NameHydroprogne caspia
Type of AnimalBird
Rangetemperate and subarctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America

The Caspian tern is a large bird that can be found in coastal areas of the world. These birds have long, pointed beaks and they are often seen flying high over the water in search of fish. Caspian terns are much larger than seagulls, with a wingspan that can reach up to three feet.

9. Chinese Crested Tern

Chinese Crested Tern
Scientific NameThalasseus bernsteini
Type of AnimalBird
RangeMazu Islands along the coast of Fujian Province

The Chinese crested tern is a small bird that can be found in coastal areas of China and Japan. This bird has a black head and white body, with a black crest on its head. While this bird does resemble a seagull, it is much smaller than most seagull species.

10. Common Tern

Common Tern
Scientific NameSterna hirundo
Type of AnimalBird
RangeEurope, Africa, and Asia

The Common Tern is a type of seabird that can be found in coastal areas throughout the world. These birds are often mistaken for seagulls, as they share some similar physical characteristics.

However, there are several key differences between these two species. For one, Common Terns have a more pointed beak than seagulls. They also have a shorter wingspan and are generally smaller in size.

11. Elegant Tern

Elegant Tern
Scientific NameThalasseus elegans
Type of AnimalBird
Rangeon the Pacific coasts of the southern United States and Mexico and winters south to Peru, Ecuador, and Chile

The elegant tern is a medium-sized bird that can be found in coastal areas of the Americas, Europe, and Africa. These birds have long, pointed wings and a forked tail. They are mostly white with black markings on their heads and wings. Elegant terns feed on fish, squid, and crustaceans.

12. Forster’s Tern

Forster's Tern
Scientific NameSterna forsteri
Type of AnimalBird
RangeNorth America

Forster’s terns are a type of seabird that can be found in coastal areas of North America. These birds are often mistaken for seagulls because of their similar appearance. However, Forster’s terns are actually quite different from seagulls.

13. Greater Crested Tern

Greater Crested Tern
Scientific NameThalasseus bergii
Type of AnimalBird
Rangesouthern and eastern Africa, the Arabian peninsula, the Indian Ocean, eastern China, southeastern Asia

The greater crested tern is a type of seabird that is found in tropical and subtropical regions. This bird has a black cap, white body, and long, orange-red bill. The greater crested tern can be found in coastal areas all over the world.

14. Gull-Billed Tern

Gull-Billed Tern
Scientific NameGelochelidon nilotica
Type of AnimalBird
RangeNorth America

The gull-billed tern is a large bird that can be found in coastal areas throughout the world. These birds have long, pointed bills and webbed feet. They are most commonly mistaken for seagulls because of their similar appearance.

15. Indian Skimmer

Indian Skimmer
Scientific NameRynchops albicollis
Type of AnimalBird
Rangecoastal estuaries of western and eastern India

The Indian skimmer is a large bird that can be found in southern Asia. It has a long, thin beak that it uses to skim the surface of the water for food. The Indian skimmer is black and white, with an orange-yellow bill.

16. Least Tern

Least Tern
Scientific NameSternula antillarum
Type of AnimalBird
RangeFlorida including estuaries and bays, as well as areas around rivers in the Great Plains

The least tern is a small bird that can be found in coastal areas of North and South America. These birds are often mistaken for seagulls because of their similar appearance.

However, there are several key differences between these two species. For one, the least terns are much smaller than seagulls. They also have different coloring, with a white belly and gray back.

17. Little Tern

Little Tern
Scientific NameSternula albifrons
Type of AnimalBird
Rangetemperate and tropical Europe and Asia

The Little Tern is a small seabird that is found in coastal areas of the world. This bird has a white body with black markings on its wings. It also has a black head and bill. Little terns are much smaller than seagulls and they have a different call.

18. Long-tailed Jaeger

Long-tailed Jaeger
Scientific NameStercorarius longicaudus
Type of AnimalBird
Rangethe high Arctic

The long-tailed jaeger is a small bird of prey that is found in coastal areas of the northern hemisphere. This bird has a long, slender body and long, pointed wings.

The upper parts of the bird are dark brown, while the underparts are white with brown streaks. The tail is long and black with a white terminal band.

19. Parasitic Jaeger

Parasitic Jaeger
Scientific NameStercorarius parasiticus
Type of AnimalBird
RangeArctic tundra

The parasitic jaeger is a type of seabird that can be found in the northern hemisphere. This bird looks similar to a seagull, but it has a few key differences. For one, the parasitic jaeger is smaller than most seagulls. It also has a darker plumage, with a white belly and black markings on its wings.

Another difference between the parasitic jaeger and seagulls is their behavior. While seagulls are typically found near the shore, the parasitic jaeger spends most of its time out at sea

20. Pomarine Jaeger

Pomarine Jaeger
Scientific NameStercorarius pomarinus
Type of AnimalBird
RangeArctic tundra

The Pomarine Jaeger is a medium-sized bird of prey that can be found in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of the world. These birds are closely related to seagulls, and they share many of the same features. But, Pomarine Jaegers have darker plumage and a more robust build than seagulls.

21. Roseate Tern

Roseate Tern
Scientific NameSterna dougallii
Type of AnimalBird
Rangefrom Nova Scotia, south to the Florida Keys, and on islands throughout the Caribbean

The roseate tern is a small bird that is found along coasts in the Americas, Europe, and Africa. This bird has a white body with black wings and a long, forked tail. The roseate tern is very similar in appearance to the common tern, but it can be distinguished by its pinkish-red breast.

22. Royal Tern

Royal Tern
Scientific NameThalasseus maximus
Type of AnimalBird
Rangealong the Gulf Coast and southern Atlantic Coast, less numerous in California

The royal tern is a large bird that can be found in coastal areas of the Americas, Africa, and Europe. These birds have long, orange-yellow bills and black-tipped wings. Their bodies are white with a black stripe running down the center of their chests.

23. Sandwich Tern

Sandwich Tern
Scientific NameThalasseus sandvicensis
Type of AnimalBird
Rangetemperate and subarctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America

The Sandwich Tern is a medium-sized bird that can be found in coastal areas of the Atlantic Ocean. This bird has a white head and body, with a black cap and wings. The Sandwich Tern also has a long, forked tail.

24. Sooty Tern

Sooty Tern
Scientific NameOnychoprion fuscatus
Type of AnimalBird
RangeNorth American

The Sooty Tern is a bird that is found in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. These birds get their name from their dark plumage, which is sooty black in color. While they are not related to seagulls, they do share some similarities with these birds.

25. South American Tern

South American Tern
Scientific NameSterna hirundinacea
Type of AnimalBird
Rangecoastal regions of southern South America, including the Falkland Islands, ranging north to Peru (Pacific coast) and Brazil (Atlantic coast)

The South American tern is a small, bird that is found along the coastlines of South America. These birds are often mistaken for seagulls because of their similar coloring. However, South American terns are much smaller than seagulls and have a completely different bill shape.

26. Spectacled Tern

Spectacled Tern
Scientific NameOnychoprion lunatus
Type of AnimalBird
RangeThe northwestern Hawaiian Islands

The spectacled tern is a type of seabird that is often mistaken for a seagull. These birds are found in tropical and subtropical areas, and they have a similar coloration to seagulls. But, spectacled terns have a black stripe that runs through their eyes, and they lack the webbing between their toes.

27. Whiskered Tern

Whiskered Tern
Scientific NameChlidonias hybrida
Type of AnimalBird
RangeEurope, Asia, Africa, and Australia, and winter in much of Africa, southern and southeast Asia, and the Australian region

The whiskered tern is a medium-sized bird that can be found in coastal areas throughout the world. These birds have white plumage and a black cap on their head. Their bill is yellow with a black tip, and they have a black “mustache” on each side of their face.

28. White-Winged Tern

White-Winged Tern
Scientific NameChlidonias leucopterus
Type of AnimalBird
Rangenear the Great lakes and along the north Atlantic Coast of the United States

The white-winged tern is a common bird in coastal areas of Australia and New Zealand. These birds are often mistaken for seagulls due to their similar coloration. However, white-winged terns are much smaller than seagulls and have a black band across their wings.

Conclusion

There are many birds that are commonly mistaken for seagulls. These include the Bridled Tern, Common Tern, Black-legged Kittiwake, common gull, black-bellied tern, and black skimmer. While they may look similar to seagulls, these birds have different coloring and sizes.

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