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Thayer's Gull

Larus thayeri ORDER: CHARADRIIFORMES FAMILY: LARIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Thayer's Gull breeds in the high Arctic of Canada and winters along the northern Pacific Coast. It has become a more common winter visitor to the Great Lakes and the East Coast, but it is unknown whether increasing reports are due to increasingly eastward movement of the species or to more birders being aware of this rare gull.

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Appearance

Gulls
Gulls
Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Medium to large gull.
  • Head and underparts white.
  • Back light gray.
  • Wingtips streaked black-and-white, mostly pale below.
  • Bill yellow with red spot near tip of lower mandible.

Immature Description

Juvenal Plumage: Variable from overall light grayish brown to deep smoky brown. Back marked with light brown. Wingtips darker than back. Innermost wing feathers (tertials) mostly dark with light edges. Tail dusky. Bill all black.
First Winter (Basic I) Plumage: Like juvenal plumage.
Second Winter (Basic II) Plumage: Body and head mostly whitish. Back with some gray; wings still mottled with brown. Wingtips and tail darker. Bill dark with pale base.

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Field MarksHelp

  • Adult breeding

    Thayer's Gull

    Adult breeding
    • © 2004 Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, June 2000
  • Juvenile

    Thayer's Gull

    Juvenile
    • © 2004 Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ventura, California, December 2000

Similar Species

  • Iceland Gull very similar to paler Thayer's Gulls, and some individuals may not be distinguishable. Iceland Gull generally has paler wingtips, often nearly white. Juvenile Iceland Gull has more light marking in the inner wing feathers (tertials) and a paler tail.
  • Herring Gull very similar to darker Thayer's Gulls, but adult has yellow eyes and usually has extensive blackish under the wingtips.
  • California Gull is smaller, has yellowish green legs, and a black spot in front of the red spot on the bill.
  • Ring-billed Gull smaller, with yellow legs in adult and distinct black ring around bill and no red spot. Immature Ring-billed Gull with thinner black band on tail.
  • Hybrids between Western and Glaucous-winged gulls are marked like Thayer's Gull, but are larger, more robust, and have very thick bills with a pronounced angle on the bottom.