Ivory Gull Life History


Habitat OceansBreeds on rocky islands and cliffs near pack ice. Winters on pack and drift ice.Back to top


Food FishFish, marine invertebrates, some small mammals, carrion. Also feces and placentas of seals.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Ground

Nest Description

Mound of mosses, dry grass, splinters of driftwood, feathers, down, stalks, algae or seaweeds, lichen, or dried mud. Placed on cliff ledges, dry stony ridges within a few meters of the ice cap, gently-sloping boulder-strewn mounds, or gravel banks in small streams.

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size:1-3 eggs
Egg Description:Dark to pale brown with variable amount of dark spotting and blotching.
Condition at Hatching:Alert and mobile, covered with white down.
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Behavior Ground ForagerHovers, dips, and plunges into water to get food. Attracted by red splashes on snow. Follows whales. Scavenges carrion from polar bear kills.Back to top


Conservation Restricted RangeLittle information is available on Ivory Gull numbers and population trends because of the species' remote breeding and wintering areas. The North American Waterbird Conservation Plan estimates a continental breeding population of more than 2,400 birds, rates the species a 14 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, and lists it as a Species of Moderate Concern. Ivory Gull is on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, which lists bird species that are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered without conservation action.Back to top


Kushlan, J. A., M. J. Steinkamp, K. C. Parsons, J. Capp, M. A. Cruz, M. Coulter, I. Davidson, L. Dickson, N. Edelson, R. Elliott, R. M. Erwin, S. Hatch, S. Kress, R. Milko, S. Miller, K. Mills, R. Paul, R. Phillips, J. E. Saliva, W. Sydeman, J. Trapp, J. Wheeler and K. Wohl (2002). Waterbird conservation for the Americas: The North American waterbird conservation plan, version 1. Washington, DC, USA.

Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2015.2. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2015.

Mallory, Mark L., Iain J. Stenhouse, H. Grant Gilchrist, Gregory J. Robertson, J. Christopher Haney and Stewart D. Macdonald. (2008). Ivory Gull (Pagophila eburnea), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. (2014). The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

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