Living Bird Magazine
Glaucous GullLarus hyperboreus
- ORDER: Charadriiformes
- FAMILY: Laridae
An imposing pale gull of the arctic, Glaucous Gulls are the second biggest gull in the world. Breeding adults are pale pearly gray and snow white, with all-white wingtips. Many adults remain in the arctic year-round, where they eat virtually anything, from lemmings to seabirds to starfish, as well as fruit, insects, carrion, and trash. They often nest near colonies of other birds, where they hunt chicks and eat eggs. Pairs form strong bonds that endure for many years, unlike in some gull species.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Glaucous Gulls stand out in all plumages because of their large size and pale wingtips. They’re numerous in the far north, but finding one in the Lower 48 takes careful attention. They’re scarce in the southern United States, and uncommon but fairly regular in New England and the Pacific Northwest. Individuals that do wander southward tend to be immatures—find them by patient scanning of flocks of gulls, and study the largest and palest individuals.
- Gavión Hiperbóreo (Spanish)
- Goéland bourgmestre (French)
- Cool Facts
- Glaucous Gulls are smaller than Great Black-backed Gulls by length and wingspan, but they may weigh over 5 pounds, making them the heaviest if not the largest of the world’s gull species.
- First- and second-year Glaucous Gulls tend to move farther southward than adults, and most individuals seen in the southern portion of the winter range are immatures.
- Glaucous Gull are predators at seabird nesting colonies. They walk into colonies and take eggs and chicks left unprotected, and may take advantage of disturbances (such as an arctic fox or person moving through the colony) to take unguarded eggs and chicks.
- The oldest recorded Glaucous Gull was at least 9 years, 1 month old when it was seen in Nunavut in 2003, and identified by its band.