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Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus


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Glaucous Gull
credit: Sowls, Art

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Laridae, Gulls and Terns view all from this family

Description ADULT SUMMER Has very pale gray back and upper wings with white trailing edge and wingtips. Plumage is otherwise white. Bill is yellowish with orange spot on gonys, and iris is pale yellow with orange eyering. ADULT WINTER Similar, but head and neck are streaked grubby brown; bill and eye colors are duller. JUVENILE Pale mottled brown, but first-winter plumage is whitish overall with pale buff marbling on back and upper wing coverts, and pale buff barring on tail; plumage becomes paler as winter progresses. Bill is dark-tipped pink and eye is dark. Second-winter is paler still, variably pale gray on back and upper wing, with buff barring on tail; iris is usually pale. Third-winter resembles winter adult, but retains faint buff barring on tail.

Dimensions Length: 28" (71 cm)

Habitat Common breeder on Arctic coastal tundra. Outside breeding season, mainly coastal and range extends along northern half of Atlantic seaboard although precise distribution is unpredictable and in part influenced by severity of winter weather further north.

Observation Tips Easy to see within northerly winter range, typically in good numbers within harbors or at garbage dumps.

Range Alaska, Great Lakes, Texas, Plains, Eastern Canada, Western Canada, New England, Florida, Rocky Mountains, Mid-Atlantic, Northwest, California, Southeast

Voice Utters deep kyaoo and ga-ka-ka calls.

Discussion Large, bulky, and pale gull. All birds have pale wings, pink legs, large head, and massive bill. At rest, wings project only slightly beyond tail (wings are noticeably longer than tail in Iceland). Juvenile acquires adult plumage over 3-year period. Sexes are similar.