Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides) Description

Iceland gull

The Iceland gull, scientific name Larus glaucoides is a medium-sized gull that breeds within the Arctic areas of Canada and Greenland, however not in Iceland though its name suggests, the place it is just seen throughout winter.

The genus title is from Latin larus, which seems to have referred to a gull or a different giant seabird.

The precise title glaucoides denotes its resemblance to Larus glaucus, a synonym of Larus hyperboreus, the glaucous gull; -oides is Historic Greek and means “resembling”.

A pale northern gull, in regards to the measurement of Herring Gull however extra sleek and maneuverable in flight.

Regardless of its title, it happens in Iceland solely in the course of the winter. The standard white-winged kind nests solely in Greenland, whereas the “Kumlien’s” kind, with grey within the wingtips, nests in northeastern Canada and winters largely in jap Canada and the northeastern United States.

The “Thayer’s” kind, thought of a separate species till just lately, nests in far northern Canada and winters primarily alongside the Pacific Coast.

The latter two varieties appear to intergrade the place their nesting ranges are available contact within the Baffin Island area of Arctic Canada.

Iceland gull is migratory, wintering from within the North Atlantic as far south because of the British Isles and northernmost states of the jap United States, in addition to within the inside of North America as far west because of the western Nice Lakes.

It’s a lot of scarcer in Europe than the same glaucous gull.

Iceland gull breeds on slender cliff ledges within the Arctic and forage gracefully over the water, typically plucking fish from the floor without a touchdown.

Many winters in ice-choked Arctic waters, however, some Iceland gulls come south to the Northeast, Nice Lakes, and West Coast.

The plumage of the Iceland gull is variable, particularly the adults’ wingtips, which might vary from pure white within the east to black within the west.

The darker-winged “Thayer’s” gull of the west was once thought of as a unique species; the 2 have been lumped in 2017.

Iceland gull is medium-sized gulls with comparatively slender, brief payments. They’ve pretty lengthy wings that reach effectively previous the tail.

The American taxon Kumlien’s gull is usually thought of as a subspecies, L. g. kumlieni, of Iceland gull. The taxon Thayer’s gull is taken into account a subspecies, L. g. thayeri, of Iceland gull by the American Ornithological Society as of 2017.

This Iceland Gull species breeds colonially or singly on coasts and cliffs, making a nest lined with grass, moss, or seaweed on the bottom of the cliff. Usually, two or three mild brown eggs are laid.

Feeding Conduct

Forages in flight by dipping to the floor of water to select up objects or by plunging to simply beneath floor; additionally feeds whereas swimming or strolling.


2-3. Buff to olive blotched with darker brown. Incubation might be by each sex; incubation interval unknown. Younger: Each mother and father in all probability feed younger. Age of younger at fledging not recognized.


Each mother and father in all probability feed younger. Age of younger at fledging not recognized.

Food regimen

Largely fish. Apart from a wide range of small fish, additionally feeds on mollusks, crustaceans, carrion, berries, seeds.

Round colonies of smaller seabirds, could take eggs or younger, and infrequently scavenges lifeless younger birds.

Additionally could feed on refuse around rubbish dumps, docks, fishing boats.

Iceland gull


Breeding habits not well-known. Most likely doesn’t breed till 4 years outdated. Nests in colonies, typically in identical colonies with Black-legged Kittiwakes, generally with Glaucous Gulls.

In such combined colonies, Iceland Gulls often nest increased than kittiwakes, decrease than Glaucous Gulls.

Nest web site is often on the ledge of a cliff dealing with the ocean. Nest (in all probability constructed by each sex) is a cumbersome mound of grasses, moss, and particles, with shallow despair on the high.

The nominate subspecies, L. g. glaucoides, could be very pale in all plumage, with completely no melanin within the ideas of the primaries in grownup plumage.

Adult Iceland gull is pale gray above, with a yellowish-green invoice. Immatures are very pale gray; the invoice is extra extensively darkish than with glaucous gull and lacks pink.

The Iceland Gull is a medium-sized gull, though comparatively slender and lightweight in weight. In size, it might probably measure from 50 to 64 cm (20 to 25 in), wingspan is from 115 to 150 cm (45 to 59 in), and weight is from 480 to 1,100 g (1.06 to 2.43 lb).

Amongst commonplace measurements, the wing of an Iceland gull chord is 37.9 to 44. 3 cm (14.9 to 17.4 in), the invoice is 3.6 to 5.

Four cm (1.Four to 2.1 in), and the tarsus is 4.9 to 6.7 cm (1.9 to 2.6 in). It’s smaller and thinner-billed than the very giant glaucous gull and is often smaller than the herring gull. It takes 4 years to achieve maturity.


Iceland Gulls nest within the distant Arctic, on forbidding cliffs overlooking fjords.

The sight impressed one early twentieth-century naturalist, who wrote {that a} colony of Iceland Gulls “afforded a memorable sight as in a stressed cloud they wheeled hysterically in dextrous evolutions towards the awful facade of the good promontory.”

The Iceland Gull has been a headache for taxonomists. It’s divided into three subspecies, certainly, one of which (Thayer’s Gull) was thought of as a separate species till 2017.

To provide a way of how complicated these gulls may be, Thayer’s was at one time thought to belong to a totally completely different species, the Herring Gull.

The principle distinction between Iceland, Kumlien’s, and Thayer’s subspecies lies in how darkish the wingtips are in adults. Some western birds (Thayer’s) have totally darkish wingtips; others in jap Canada and Greenland (Iceland or “glaucoides” subspecies) can have totally white wingtips, and there’s a number of variation in between.

The oldest recorded Iceland Gull was at the least four years, eight months outdated when it was seen alive within the wild in jap Canada, and recognized by its band.

They breed on coastal cliffs within the excessive Arctic and forage in open water amongst pack ice.

In winter they happen alongside coasts and forage near shore, on seashores, and generally on lawns, agricultural fields, and rubbish dumps.

Adults have pale grey again and wings, yellow invoice, and white head and neck which can be smudged brownish in winter plumage.

Wingtips are extraordinarily variable, usually grey to white within the East and darker within the West.

Juveniles are mild to medium brown mottled with white; immatures have pale grey backs with mottled brownish wings and darkish payments. The legs are pink for all ages.

The decision is a “laughing” cry like herring gull, however, increased pitched.

Like most Larus gulls, these are omnivores, consuming fish, mollusks, offal, scraps, and eggs.

They forage whereas flying, selecting up meals at or simply beneath the water’s floor, and so they additionally feed whereas strolling or swimming.

Their scavenging habits make them frequent rubbish dumps, sewage retailers, and locations the place fish are cleaned.

Iceland Gulls are sleek fliers with pretty fast wingbeats. They typically forage by flying low over the water and swooping down to select up fish or different meals without a touchdown.

Iceland Gull consists of three subspecies that change most noticeably by the color of the wingtips.

The “Iceland” kind breeds in Greenland and winters primarily within the North Atlantic (together with Iceland). It has very pale to utterly white wingtips.

The “Kumlien’s” subspecies is the shape mostly seen in winter on the East Coast of North America. Its wingtips differ from almost white to grey.

The “Thayer’s” kind (though of a separate species till 2017) winters on the West Coast of North America.

Iceland gull often has barely darker wings, darkish grey to black wingtips, and heavy streaking or smudging on the top and neck in winter.

There’s a number of overlap between each of those varieties, and a few people can’t be simply positioned right into a subspecies primarily based on the plumage of Iceland gull and others.

Other Recommended Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *