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Sabine's Gull

Silhouette GullsGulls
Sabine's GullXema sabini
  • ORDER: Charadriiformes
  • FAMILY: Laridae

Basic Description

Almost more of a tern than a gull, the little Sabine's Gull is a captivating seabird with a charcoal gray head edged in black, a red eyering, and a black bill with yellow tip. On boldly patterned wings that flash triangles of black, white, and gray, Sabine's Gulls swoop deftly over open ocean to seize crustaceans and small fish. In summer they nest in arctic tundra, splashing through freshwater pools to catch insects, spinning in shallow water like a phalarope, or dashing on mudflats like a plover.

More ID Info
image of range map for Sabine's Gull
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Sabine’s Gulls breed in the Arctic, where they are very conspicuous if you can make it to their marshy tundra habitat. If you can't travel that far north, try a "pelagic" (offshore) birding trip from the West Coast to see migrants in autumn and to a lesser extent spring. They are seen considerably less often on East Coast pelagic trips. Some Sabine’s Gulls do migrate across interior North America and a few turn up on lakes and rivers annually, often after the passage of a cold front or storm.

Other Names

  • Gaviota de Sabine (Spanish)
  • Mouette de Sabine (French)
  • Cool Facts