The term sea gull is a misnomer as the shore birds that this describes are actually simply called gulls. In essence, a gull that makes its way out to sea in search of a meal or during a migration can be called a sea gull but these hardy birds, which can sometimes live to between 35 and 40 years old, spend most of their time near the shore or inland.
The typical gull has a solid body, strong bill that has a hooked tip, feet that are webbed, long wings that are pointed, and stubby, but square, tails.
The most common of the more than 20 types of gulls found throughout North America is the herring gull, which can reach lengths of up to two feet and has a white head and body but a back that is gray.
Gulls are considered to be scavengers and will frequent areas such as docks, garbage dumps, and the decks of ships where they will eat anything that they can find and digest.
Colonies of gulls will be found constructing simple nests in places such as cliffs and ledges, in salt-water marshes, and on isolated beaches.
Terns are shorebirds which are often misidentified as gulls but terns are smaller, have forked tails, sharper bills, and will dive head-first into the water; gulls will land on the surface feet first.