AudioDateDownLeftRightUpCloseReportGallerySettingsGiftLanguageGridListMapMenuPhotoPlayPlusSearchStarUserIconVideo

Glaucous Gull

Larus hyperboreus

Order:
Charadriiformes
Family:
Laridae
Sections
  • Authors: Gilchrist, H. Grant
  • Revisors: Weiser, Emily
  • Published: Dec 21, 2012
Listen

Free Introduction Article Access

The Introduction Article is just the first of 11 articles in each species account that provide life history information for the species. The remaining articles provide detailed information regarding distribution, migration, habitat, diet, sounds, behavior, breeding, current population status and conservation. Each species account also includes a multimedia section that displays the latest photos, audio selections and videos from Macaulay Library’s extensive galleries. Written and continually updated by acknowledged experts on each species, Birds of North America accounts include a comprehensive bibliography of published research on the species.

A subscription is needed to access the remaining account articles and multimedia content. Rates start at $5 USD for 30 days of complete access.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? Sign In
Enlarge
Fig. 1. Distribution of the Glaucous Gull in North America.

Very small numbers winter at inland locations south of the distribution shown. This species also breeds in Europe and Asia. See text for details.

Enlarge
First-winter Glaucous Gull head detail, Petaluma, CA, 8 March.

Bill pattern is very important in identifying first-winter Glaucous Gulls; always pink-based, and with a well-demarcated blackish tip. The following is a link to this photographer's website: http://www.flickr.com/photos/oceanites/.

© Cornell Lab of Ornithology

This large, pale gull has a circumpolar arctic distribution. In North America, it breeds along northern coasts in Alaska and the Canadian Arctic, east to Labrador. In winter, it is rare or uncommon south of its breeding range but does occur south as far as temperate maritime regions of California along the Pacific Coast and Virginia along the Atlantic Coast. Small numbers also winter regularly on the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River.

The Glaucous Gull nests in a variety of northern habitats, including open tundra, high coastal cliffs, islands in freshwater tundra lakes, and sandy islets at river mouths. It often nests in association with other colonial-nesting birds such as Black-legged Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla), Thick-billed (Uria lomvia) and Common murres (U. aalge), Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides), and Common Eider (Somateria mollissima). Glaucous Gull nesting density can range from single nests spaced kilometers apart over flat tundra to colonies of more than 300 pairs on islands and cliffs. This gull is socially monogamous, and each pair can raise up to 3 young in a season; the pair bond is often maintained for many breeding seasons.

A generalist feeder, the Glaucous Gull has a diverse diet that includes marine and freshwater fish and invertebrates, bird eggs and chicks, small mammals, berries, carrion, human refuse, and food items pirated from other foraging birds. One of these food categories may predominate in the diet of some individuals during the breeding season.

Compared with other North American gulls, this species is poorly studied, owing to the inaccessibility of its northern breeding locations and its thin distribution at coastal wintering areas. Recent studies in North America (Alaska and e. Canadian Arctic) have focused on contaminants (Braune et al. 2002, Braune and Simon 2004, Buckman et al. 2004, Braune et al. 2005, Mallory et al. 2006, Braune and Scheuhammer 2008, Vander Pol et al. 2009), diet (Schmutz et al 2001, Hobson et al. 2002, Bowman et al. 2004, Weiser and Powell 2010, 2011a, 2011b), reproduction and demographics (Gaston et al. 2005, 2007, 2009, Mallory et al. 2009, Allard et al. 2010), phylogenetics (Liebers et al. 2004, Vigfúsdóttir et al. 2008, Sternkopf et al. 2010), and avian influenza (Ip et al. 2008, Ramey et al. 2010).

Recommended Citation

Weiser, Emily and H. Grant Gilchrist. (2012). Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus), The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America: https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/glagul

DOI: 10.2173/bna.573