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Ivory Gull

Pagophila eburnea ORDER: CHARADRIIFORMES FAMILY: LARIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Near Threatened

A small white gull of the high Arctic, the Ivory Gull only rarely comes south of the Bering Sea or the Maritime Provinces. In fact, it rarely is found away from pack ice, spending the winter on the ice north of Newfoundland.

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At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
15.7–16.9 in
40–43 cm
Wingspan
42.5–47.2 in
108–120 cm
Weight
15.8–24.2 oz
448–687 g
Other Names
  • Goéland sénateur, Mouette blanche (French)
  • Gaviota marfil (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The Ivory Gull casts up pellets of indigestible matter from its food, such as bones and fur. Pellet-casting is most frequent where lemmings are abundant and are the major prey.
  • The adult Ivory Gull attending the nest expels its faeces powerfully by aiming its cloaca outward from cliff nest sites.
  • Large nests of the Ivory Gull are eaten by caribou during the winter and early spring.

Habitat


Ocean

Breeds on rocky islands and cliffs near pack ice. Winters on pack and drift ice.

Food


Fish

Fish, marine invertebrates, some small mammals, carrion. Also feces and placentas of seals.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
1–3 eggs
Egg Description
Dark to pale brown with variable amount of dark spotting and blotching.
Condition at Hatching
Alert and mobile, covered with white down.
Nest Description

Mound of mosses, dry grass, splinters of driftwood, feathers, down, stalks, algae or seaweeds, lichen, or dried mud. Placed on cliff ledges, dry stony ridges within a few meters of the ice cap, gently-sloping boulder-strewn mounds, or gravel banks in small streams.

Nest Placement

Ground

Behavior


Aerial Dive

Hovers, dips, and plunges into water to get food. Attracted by red splashes on snow. Follows whales. Scavenges carrion from polar bear kills.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Near Threatened

Little information available because of remote breeding and wintering areas.

Credits

  • Haney, J. C., and S. D. MacDonald. 1995. Ivory Gull (Pagophila eburnea). In The Birds of North America, No. 175 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and The American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington, D.C.

Range Map Help

Ivory Gull Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

You Might Also Like

The Allure of the Ivory Gull. Story and photos in Living Bird magazine.