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Help develop a Bird ID tool!

Sabine's Gull

Xema sabini ORDER: CHARADRIIFORMES FAMILY: LARIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

An unusual and distinctive arctic gull that breeds at high latitudes but winters near the tropics. A striking gull in all plumages with a bold upper wing pattern, long pointed wings, a notched tail, and a short black bill with a yellow tip.

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ML Essential Set

Appearance

Gulls
Gulls
Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Wings show bold pattern of black, white, and gray triangles in flight.
  • Tail notched.
  • Bill black with yellow tip.

Immature Description

Juvenal plumage: Grayish-brown wash on crown, nape, and sides of breast. Forehead, lower cheeks, and throat white. Brownish back and upper wing coverts, with scaled appearance. Outer primaries black and narrowly edged with white. Rump and tail white. Tail with black band on tip, broadest in center, which accentuates the notched shape. Bill dark or black. Legs and feet dull grayish pink. Bold wing pattern of three triangles like adult, but base of wing and back brown.
First winter plumage: Like juvenal, but with gray back and scapulars instead of brown, contrasting with brown wings. Crown whiter and with brownish gray patches on hind neck.

Range Map Help

Sabine
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Field MarksHelp

  • Adult breeding

    Sabine's Gull

    Adult breeding
    • © L. Page Brown/CLO
  • Adult nonbreeding

    Sabine's Gull

    Adult nonbreeding
    • © Kevin T. Karlson
  • Juvenile

    Sabine's Gull

    Juvenile
    • © Brian E. Small