Sabine's Gull Life History


Habitat Oceans

  • Nests on moist tundra ground, usually near fresh water. Feeds primarily in fresh water or on land.
  • Migrates and winters primarily offshore.
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Food Aquatic invertebratesIn breeding season eats aquatic insects. In winter eats zooplankton, crustaceans, fishes.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Ground

Nest Description

Depression in vegetation, rarely with lining.

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.
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Behavior HoveringTakes food from surface of water, usually while flying. Frequently robbed of food by jaegers, both on the breeding grounds and at sea.Back to top


Conservation Low ConcernSabine'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. Back to top


Day, Robert H., Iain J. Stenhouse and H. Grant Gilchrist. (2001). Sabine's Gull (Xema sabini), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

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.

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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