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Help develop a Bird ID tool!

Glaucous Gull

Larus hyperboreus ORDER: CHARADRIIFORMES FAMILY: LARIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A huge gull of the frozen North, the Glaucous Gull breeds across most of the high Arctic. It winters farther north than most gulls, but it does turn up as far south as California and Virginia.

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Appearance

Gulls
Gulls
Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Large gull.
  • Head and underparts white.
  • Back light gray.
  • Wingtips white.
  • Bill yellow with red spot near tip of lower mandible.

Immature Description

Juvenal Plumage: Body and head uniformly colored light brownish gray or buff. Whitish on chin and around base of bill. Dusky around eyes. Pale brown streaks on head. Back pale buff, with pale brown wavy bars. Rump barred brownish. Tail plain pale buff with highly variable pattern of whitish and darker brown bars. Bill pink with black tip. Legs pale flesh-colored. Eyes dark brown. Wingtips white.
First Winter (Basic I) Plumage: Similar to Juvenal Plumage, except head and underparts slightly paler, and back whiter.
First Summer (Alternate I) Plumage: Head and body increasingly paler. Back whitish, with irregular brown barring.
Second Winter (Basic II) Plumage: Back whitish, with only sparse barring. Wings whitish, without barring. Tail pale, with only faint markings. Eyes pale.
Second Summer (Alternate II) Plumage: Similar to First Winter Plumage, but some gray feathers on back.
Third Winter (Basic III) Plumage: Similar to adult, with white underparts and gray back. Wings with some faint brown freckling. Tail white, with some faint brownish marks. Upper and under tail sometimes faintly barred.

Range Map Help

Glaucous Gull Range Map
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Field MarksHelp

  • Adult breeding

    Glaucous Gull

    Adult breeding
    • © 2004 Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ventura, California
  • Adult nonbreeding

    Glaucous Gull

    Adult nonbreeding
    • © 2004 Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Homer, Alaska, February 2000
  • Juvenile

    Glaucous Gull

    Juvenile
    • © 2004 Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Homer, Alaska, September 2000
  • First summer

    Glaucous Gull

    First summer
    • © 2004 Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ventura, California, March 2000
  • Adult breeding (left) and young

    Glaucous Gull

    Adult breeding (left) and young
    • © 2004 Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cape Atholl, Greenland, July 2000

Similar Species

  • Iceland Gull similar in adult plumage, but is smaller and more slender. American forms usually have dusky to dark markings in their wingtips. Juvenile Iceland Gull has completely black bill and is rarely pure white.
  • Glaucous-winged Gull has gray or dusky wingtips in all plumages. Young Glaucous-winged Gulls have wingtips nearly the same color as the back.
  • Albino gulls can be misidentified as Glaucous Gull. If a gull is pure, immaculate white, it is probably an albino; young Glaucous Gulls will have some light brown markings.