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Ivory Gull


IUCN Conservation Status: Near Threatened

A small white gull of the high Arctic, the Ivory Gull only rarely comes south of the Bering Sea or the Maritime Provinces. In fact, it rarely is found away from pack ice, spending the winter on the ice north of Newfoundland.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
15.7–16.9 in
40–43 cm
42.5–47.2 in
108–120 cm
15.8–24.2 oz
448–687 g
Other Names
  • Goéland sénateur, Mouette blanche (French)
  • Gaviota marfil (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The Ivory Gull casts up pellets of indigestible matter from its food, such as bones and fur. Pellet-casting is most frequent where lemmings are abundant and are the major prey.
  • The adult Ivory Gull attending the nest expels its faeces powerfully by aiming its cloaca outward from cliff nest sites.
  • Large nests of the Ivory Gull are eaten by caribou during the winter and early spring.
  • The oldest recorded Ivory Gull was at least 23 years, 11 months old when it was shot in Greenland in 2005. It had been banded in Nunavut in 1982.



Breeds on rocky islands and cliffs near pack ice. Winters on pack and drift ice.



Fish, marine invertebrates, some small mammals, carrion. Also feces and placentas of seals.


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.
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.

Nest Placement



Aerial Dive

Hovers, dips, and plunges into water to get food. Attracted by red splashes on snow. Follows whales. Scavenges carrion from polar bear kills.


status via IUCN

Near Threatened

Little 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.


Range Map Help

Ivory Gull Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

You Might Also Like

The Allure of the Ivory Gull. Story and photos in Living Bird magazine.



Or Browse Bird Guide by Family, Name or Shape
bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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