Abstract Several viruses of the family of Adenoviridae are associated with disease in birds. Here we report the detection of a novel adenovirus in the cloacal bursa of herring gulls (Larus argentatus) and lesser black-backed gulls (Larus fuscus) that were found dead in the Netherlands in 2001. Histopathological analysis of the cloacal bursa revealed cytomegaly and karyomegaly with basophilic intranuclear inclusions typical for adenovirus infection. The presence of an adenovirus was confirmed by electron microscopy. By random PCR in combination with deep sequencing, sequences were detected that had the best hit with known adenoviruses. Phylogenetic analysis of complete coding sequences of the hexon, penton and polymerase genes indicates that this novel virus, tentatively named Gull adenovirus, belongs to the genus Aviadenovirus. The present study demonstrates that birds of the Laridae family are infected by family-specific adenoviruses that differ from known adenoviruses in other bird species.