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Sabine's Gull


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Sabine's Gull is an unusual and distinctive arctic gull that breeds at high latitudes but winters near the tropics. A striking bird in all plumages with a bold upper wing pattern, long pointed wings, a notched tail, and a short black bill with a yellow tip.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
13.4 in
34 cm
5.5–7.5 oz
155–213 g
Other Names
  • Mouette de Sabine (French)
  • Gaviota de Sabine (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • Most yearling Sabine's Gulls do not attempt to breed and do not return to the breeding grounds. Their summer home is still relatively unknown.
  • Although most Sabine's Gulls migrate along the coasts or at sea, some migrate directly north-south, directly across North America.
  • The only member of its genus, the Sabine's Gull is like no other gull. Many of its behaviors resemble those of terns more than gulls.
  • The oldest recorded Sabine's Gull was at least 8 years, 1 month old when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Alaska.



  • Nests on moist tundra ground, usually near fresh water. Feeds primarily in fresh water or on land.
  • Migrates and winters primarily offshore.



In breeding season eats aquatic insects. In winter eats zooplankton, crustaceans, fishes.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
1–4 eggs
Egg Description
Slightly pointed. Rich olive-green with darker greenish-brown, irregular markings.
Condition at Hatching
Chicks semi-precocial at hatching; may leave nest cup at one day old, typically stay on platform for several days. Covered in cryptically colored down.
Nest Description

Depression in vegetation, rarely with lining.

Nest Placement




Takes food from surface of water, usually while flying. Frequently robbed of food by jaegers, both on the breeding grounds and at sea.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

Sabine's Gull is not a species of concern in America because their relatively large populations breed away from human disturbance. However, their habitat makes them somewhat vulnerable to oil pollution. The North American Waterbird Conservation Plan estimates a continental population of 200,000-400,000 breeding birds, rates the species a 10 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, and lists it as a Species of Low Concern. Sabine's Gull is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List.


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