Seagulls are a common sight along coastlines around the world, but if you’re headed to Hawaii you may be wondering: are there seagulls in Hawaii? With Hawaii’s remote location in the Central Pacific Ocean, it has a unique environment and wildlife compared to other tropical destinations.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: While not native to the islands, seagulls can be found in Hawaii, especially around populated areas with access to food sources. However, they are less numerous compared to other coastal regions.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Hawaiian seagulls: from how they first arrived on the islands to where they live now, what attracts them, how to identify the different species, and whether they pose any problems for people or the environment in Hawaii.

Background on Seagulls in Hawaii

Seagulls, often associated with coastal regions, are a common sight in many parts of the world. However, when it comes to Hawaii, you may be wondering if these iconic seabirds can be found on the islands. Let’s delve into the background of seagulls in Hawaii to find out.

Seagulls are not native to Hawaii

Contrary to popular belief, seagulls are not native to Hawaii. The islands’ isolation and unique ecosystem make it an unlikely habitat for these birds. Instead, Hawaii is home to a diverse range of native bird species, such as the Hawaiian honeycreeper and the nene (Hawaiian goose).

When seagulls first arrived on the islands

The presence of seagulls in Hawaii can be attributed to human activity. Historically, seagulls arrived in Hawaii as migratory birds or were introduced intentionally or unintentionally by humans. The exact timeframe of their arrival is uncertain, but it is believed to have occurred in the late 18th or early 19th century.

Main seagull species found in Hawaii today

Today, several species of seagulls can be found in Hawaii, with the most commonly observed being the California gull (Larus californicus). These seagulls are known for their distinctive white and gray plumage, yellow beaks, and black wingtips. They are often seen near coastal areas and can be easily identified by their scavenging behavior and characteristic calls.

For more information about the native bird species of Hawaii and the efforts to protect and conserve them, you can visit the official website of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Where Seagulls Live and Nest in Hawaii

When you think of seagulls, you might picture them soaring over a rocky coastline or scavenging for food on a crowded beach. But what about in Hawaii? Do seagulls call the beautiful islands their home? The answer is yes, there are indeed seagulls in Hawaii, although they may not be as common or as abundant as in other coastal regions.

Coastal and Urban Areas

Hawaii’s seagulls can primarily be found in coastal and urban areas, where they have adapted to the unique environment of the islands. They are often seen near harbors, beaches, and waterfront parks, where they can find food and suitable nesting sites. While they may not be as numerous as in other parts of the world, their presence adds to the diverse bird population of Hawaii.

Popular Seagull Nesting Sites

Seagulls in Hawaii typically nest in areas that provide both protection and access to food. Some popular nesting sites include rocky cliffs along the coast, offshore islands, and even rooftops in urban areas. These locations offer seagulls safety from predators and easy access to the ocean for feeding.

One well-known nesting site for seagulls in Hawaii is the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge on the island of Oahu. This refuge provides an ideal habitat for seagulls and other bird species, with its coastal wetlands and diverse vegetation. Visitors to the refuge can observe seagulls nesting and raising their young in a natural and protected environment.

Another popular nesting spot for seagulls is the island of Kauai, particularly at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. This scenic location is not only a prime nesting ground for seagulls but also a sanctuary for other seabirds, such as the endangered Laysan albatross. Visitors to Kilauea Point can witness the incredible sight of seagulls and other birds soaring above the dramatic cliffs.

It’s important to remember that while seagulls are a part of Hawaii’s bird population, they are just one of the many species that call the islands home. Hawaii is known for its rich biodiversity and unique ecosystems, and seagulls are just one piece of that puzzle.

For more information on the bird species found in Hawaii, you can visit the official website of the Hawaii Audubon Society at It’s a great resource for bird enthusiasts and those interested in learning more about the avian inhabitants of Hawaii.

What Attracts Seagulls in Hawaii

Seagulls are a common sight in coastal areas around the world, and Hawaii is no exception. These graceful birds are drawn to the islands for a variety of reasons, including the abundance of food sources and suitable habitats. Let’s take a closer look at what attracts seagulls to Hawaii.

Access to Food Waste

One of the main reasons seagulls flock to Hawaii is the easy access to food waste. With a thriving tourism industry and a high population density, the islands generate a significant amount of garbage. Seagulls are opportunistic feeders and are attracted to areas where they can scavenge for food. They have become accustomed to finding scraps and leftovers near hotels, restaurants, and picnic areas, making these locations prime feeding grounds for seagulls.

Fishing Harbors and Piers

Another factor that attracts seagulls to Hawaii is the presence of fishing harbors and piers. These structures provide an abundant source of food for the birds. Fishermen often clean their catch on the docks, discarding unwanted parts into the water. Seagulls are quick to seize this opportunity and can be seen swooping down to snatch fish scraps right out of the air. The constant activity and availability of food make fishing harbors and piers highly attractive to seagulls.

Landfills and Rubbish Dumps

Seagulls are also drawn to landfills and rubbish dumps in Hawaii. These areas are rich in discarded food and waste, providing an easy meal for the birds. Seagulls have adapted to urban environments and have learned to exploit human-made food sources. They are known to congregate in large numbers at landfills, where they scavenge for food among the heaps of trash. The proximity of landfills to the coastline makes Hawaii an ideal destination for these resourceful birds.

While seagulls may be a nuisance to some, their presence in Hawaii is a natural consequence of their ability to adapt and find food in a variety of environments. Understanding what attracts seagulls to Hawaii can help us better manage their populations and mitigate any negative impacts they may have on the local ecosystem.

Hawaiian Seagull Behavior and Adaptations

Seagulls are commonly associated with coastal areas, but are there seagulls in Hawaii? The short answer is yes, but they are not actually seagulls. The term “seagull” is a colloquial name for several species of gulls that are found near bodies of water, including the coastlines. In Hawaii, the most commonly seen gull-like birds are the Laysan Albatross and the Black-footed Albatross.


Laysan and Black-footed Albatrosses have adapted to feed on a variety of marine life. They have a specialized beak that allows them to catch and consume fish, squid, and other small marine organisms. They are also known to scavenge for food, often following fishing boats or feeding on carrion. In addition to their beak, these birds have a keen sense of sight to locate prey from the air and they can dive from great heights to catch their meal.

Breeding and nesting

The breeding and nesting habits of the Laysan and Black-footed Albatrosses are fascinating. These birds mate for life and return to the same nesting site year after year. They typically breed on remote islands in Hawaii, such as Midway Atoll and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The female lays a single egg and both parents take turns incubating it. Once the chick hatches, both parents are actively involved in raising and feeding it until it is ready to fledge.

Mobbing predators

One interesting behavior of the Laysan and Black-footed Albatrosses is their ability to mob predators. When a potential threat, such as a predator or an intruder, approaches their nesting site, these birds will gather in groups and aggressively dive and swoop towards the intruder, often making loud vocalizations. This behavior is a strategy to protect their nests and chicks from harm.

Roosting habits

Roosting is an important part of the daily routine for Laysan and Black-footed Albatrosses. These birds prefer to roost on land, often in large colonies. They will gather together on the ground or on cliffs, using their strong feet and webbed toes to maintain balance. Roosting in groups provides them with protection from predators and allows them to conserve body heat during cooler periods.

So, while there are no true seagulls in Hawaii, the Laysan and Black-footed Albatrosses exhibit fascinating behaviors and adaptations that make them well-suited to their coastal environment. To learn more about these incredible birds, you can visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website for additional information.

Problems Caused By Seagulls in Hawaii

Nuisance noise

Seagulls can be quite noisy creatures, especially when they gather in large numbers. In Hawaii, seagulls are known to congregate near beaches, harbors, and popular tourist spots. Their constant squawking and screeching can be disruptive to both locals and visitors seeking a peaceful environment. Imagine trying to relax on a beautiful beach, only to have your tranquility shattered by the cacophony of seagull calls!

Aggressive behavior around food

Seagulls have a notorious reputation for their aggressive behavior when it comes to food. They are skilled scavengers and opportunistic feeders, often swooping down to snatch food right out of people’s hands or off their plates. This can be quite intimidating and frustrating, especially for those enjoying a picnic or outdoor meal. Seagulls are not afraid to get up close and personal in their quest for a tasty treat!

Droppings and feathers

Another problem caused by seagulls in Hawaii is their droppings and feathers. Seagulls have a high metabolic rate, which means they produce a significant amount of waste. Their droppings can be unsightly and create a mess on public spaces, buildings, and vehicles. Additionally, seagull feathers can be found scattered around areas where they frequent, further adding to the nuisance and untidiness.

Impact on native wildlife

Seagulls are not native to Hawaii and their presence can have a negative impact on the local ecosystem. They are opportunistic predators and can compete with native bird species for food and nesting sites. This competition can disrupt the natural balance and potentially harm the populations of native birds. In addition, seagulls may also prey on the eggs and young of other bird species, further exacerbating the problem.


To sum up, while seagulls are not endemic to Hawaii, over time a few species have colonized parts of the islands, especially in populated coastal regions. Their adaptability allows them to flourish around man-made food sources. So when visiting Hawaii, you can expect to see gulls along the shoreline, harbors, and cities. But overall their populations remain relatively small compared to other locations. With proper management, Hawaiian seagulls can coexist in balance with native wildlife and humans in the islands’ fragile island ecosystem.

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