Skip to main content

Iceland Gull Identification

Looking for ID Help?

Our free app offers quick ID help with global coverage.

Try Merlin Bird ID

The Four Keys to ID

  • Size & Shape

    Iceland Gulls are medium-sized gulls with relatively slender, short bills. They have fairly long wings that extend well past the tail.

    Relative Size

    Larger than a Ring-billed Gull; smaller than a Herring Gull.

    Relative Sizebetween crow and goosebetween crow and goose

    • Both Sexes
      • Length: 19.7-23.6 in (50-60 cm)
      • Weight: 28.9-38.8 oz (820-1100 g)
      • Wingspan: 45.3-53.9 in (115-137 cm)

Regional Differences

Iceland Gull consists of three subspecies that vary most noticeably by the color of the wingtips. The “Iceland” form breeds in Greenland and winters mainly in the North Atlantic (including Iceland). It has very pale to completely white wingtips. The “Kumlien’s” subspecies is the form most commonly seen in winter on the East Coast of North America. Its wingtips vary from nearly white to gray. The “Thayer’s” form (considered a separate species until 2017) winters on the West Coast of North America. It usually has slightly darker wings, dark gray to black wingtips, and heavy streaking or smudging on the head and neck in winter. There’s lots of overlap between each of these forms, and some individuals can’t be easily placed into a subspecies based on plumage.