Ivory Gull Profile: Facts, Traits, Range, Adaptations, Call

ivory gull

The ivory gull is a striking seabird that is often found in the company of polar bears. With its all-white plumage, slender shape, and swift movements, it is an iconic resident of the High Arctic. This bird’s striking appearance and unique habitat make it a fascinating subject for study and observation. This article will give an overview of Ivory Gull, its description, facts, range, and call. Keep reading.

Ivory Gull Profile: Facts, Traits, Range, Adaptations, Call

The ivory gull is characterized by its pristine white plumage, which covers its entire body. Its slender shape and swift movements allow it to navigate effortlessly among the ice floes of the Arctic. Despite its elegant appearance, this bird is well-adapted to the harsh conditions of its environment, displaying resilience and agility in its movements.

Introduction to the Ivory Gull

The ivory gull, scientifically known as Pagophila eburnea, is a small gull species that holds the distinction of being the only member of its genus, Pagophila. This unique seabird is renowned for its striking appearance and its preference for extreme Arctic environments. Its circumpolar distribution spans across the high latitudes of Greenland, northernmost North America, and Eurasia, where it braves the harsh conditions of the Arctic wilderness.

Current Population Estimates

As of 2023, Birdlife Worldwide provided estimates indicating that there are between 38000-52000 ivory gulls worldwide. These estimates give us an understanding of the approximate population size of this species, although population dynamics may have changed since then due to various factors such as environmental changes and human impacts.

Physical Characteristics

The ivory gull is easily distinguishable by its unique appearance. With a length of 43 centimeters (17 inches), it possesses a distinctive, more pigeon-like shape compared to Larus gulls. One of its most striking features is its completely white plumage, setting it apart from other gull species that typically have gray backs. Additionally, the ivory gull’s bill is thick and blue, tipped with a yellow hue, while its legs are black. During the breeding season, the bill is adorned with a pink tip, and its eyes are encircled by a fleshy, shiny pink eye ring. In flight, the ivory gull emits a harsh, tern-like cry known as a “keeper.”


The ivory gull communicates through various vocalizations, each serving specific purposes. One notable vocalization is the warbling “fox-call,” which serves as a warning signal to alert others of potential predators such as the Arctic fox, polar bear, Glaucous gull, or human presence near a nest. During courtship and breeding displays, the ivory gull emits a distinct “long-call,” characterized by elongated necks, downward-pointed bills, and elaborate postures. Females also engage in a plaintive begging call, accompanied by head-tossing, as part of courtship behavior towards males. Juveniles, on the other hand, have a dusky face and may exhibit variable amounts of black flecking in their wings and tail feathers.


Ivory Gulls inhabit rocky cliffs and islands in the high Arctic, establishing breeding colonies across northeastern Canada, Greenland, northern Europe, and Russia. During the winter months, these migratory birds embark on long journeys across the sea, venturing far from their breeding grounds to seek food and shelter.


The Ivory Gull’s vocal repertoire encompasses a diverse array of sounds, ranging from high-pitched mews to cackles and whistles. These vocalizations serve as a means of communication among individuals, particularly during the breeding season and territorial disputes. Through their calls, ivory gulls convey vital information about their presence, intentions, and emotional states to their fellow flock members.


Highly social creatures, ivory gulls rely on both vocalizations and visual cues to interact with one another. Alongside their vocalizations, they utilize body language, such as head movements and wing displays, to convey messages related to aggression, courtship, and social hierarchies. This multifaceted communication system facilitates cohesive group dynamics and ensures effective coordination within the flock.


Ivory Gulls possess a medium-sized stature, typically measuring between 17 to 20 inches in length, with an impressive wingspan spanning 42 to 48 inches. While slightly smaller than the more widespread Herring Gull, these dimensions are well-suited to their aerial lifestyle and foraging behaviors in the Arctic environment.


Renowned for their strength and agility in flight, ivory gulls navigate the harsh Arctic skies with remarkable skill and precision. Their elongated wings, characterized by pointed tips, facilitate efficient gliding and soaring as they ride air currents in search of prey. With keen eyesight and adept maneuverability, these birds execute dives and chases with finesse, showcasing their prowess as aerial hunters in their icy domain.

Plumage Development

The plumage development of ivory gulls is a gradual process that spans over two years. Juveniles undergo gradual changes in their appearance as they mature, eventually attaining full adult plumage by the end of their second year. Interestingly, there are no discernible differences in appearance across the species’ geographic range, indicating a consistent and uniform physical appearance among ivory gulls regardless of their location.

The ivory gull, also known as the Pagophila eburnea, boasts a striking appearance with its snow-white plumage throughout its entire body. This immaculate coat provides excellent camouflage against the sea ice and snow-covered cliffs where they breed, making them nearly invisible to predators.

Breeding Habits and Distribution

The ivory gull is known for breeding in the most remote and inhospitable regions of the Arctic, where it selects nesting sites amid the vast expanses of ice and snow. Its circumpolar distribution encompasses breeding grounds in Greenland, northern North America, and Eurasia, where it carries out its annual breeding rituals. Despite the challenging conditions of its habitat, the ivory gull has adapted to thrive in this harsh environment, relying on its resilience and specialized adaptations to survive.

Habitat and Behavior

This seabird is typically found in the extreme northern regions of the Arctic, where it resides amid the ice floes. It is known to accompany polar bears, scavenging for food scraps left behind by these apex predators. The ivorygull is also an adept hunter, preying on small fish, invertebrates, and other marine organisms found in the frigid waters of the Arctic Ocean.

Conservation Status

The ivory gull faces numerous threats to its survival, including climate change, habitat loss, and pollution. As the Arctic environment undergoes rapid changes due to global warming, the ivory gull’s habitat is shrinking, putting additional pressure on its population. Conservation efforts are underway to protect this iconic species and ensure its survival in the face of mounting challenges.


Fledging marks a crucial milestone in the life of a young ivory gull, akin to taking its first steps into the wider world. Typically occurring after 40-50 days of hatching, fledging signifies the moment when the gull leaves the nest and begins to explore its surroundings. While their wings are sufficiently developed for short flights, fledglings remain reliant on their parents for nourishment and protection during this transitional period.


Following fledging, juvenile ivory gulls enter a formative stage that spans approximately two years. During this time, they undergo significant growth and development, gradually acquiring the skills necessary for independent living. While still depending on their parents for sustenance, juvenile gulls learn to forage for food and refine their flying abilities. Additionally, they begin to molt into their adult plumage, shedding their downy feathers to reveal the sleek, pristine white appearance characteristic of mature ivory gulls.

Foraging Behavior

Ivory gulls employ a diverse range of foraging strategies, showcasing their adaptability in acquiring sustenance. Among their techniques is kleptoparasitism, a behavior where they harass and steal food from other birds, such as terns and auks, to supplement their diet. Additionally, ivory gulls scavenge for carrion, feeding on the remains of deceased animals, and consume small fish, zooplankton, and insects found in their Arctic habitat. This opportunistic approach to foraging allows them to thrive in the ever-changing conditions of their environment.

Ivory Gull Profile: Facts, Traits, Range, Adaptations, Call


Despite their relatively small size, ivory gulls boast a remarkable lifespan, often surpassing two decades in the wild. With an average life expectancy of 20-25 years, these resilient birds exhibit impressive longevity within the harsh Arctic landscape. In exceptional cases, some individuals have been known to live up to 40 years, attesting to their adaptability and resilience in the face of environmental challenges. As enduring members of the Arctic ecosystem, ivory gulls play a vital role in maintaining ecological balance and resilience.

Wintering Habits

During the winter months, ivory gulls congregate near polynyas, large areas of open water surrounded by sea ice. In North America, these gulls, along with some individuals from Greenland and Europe, spend the winter along the 2000-kilometer stretch of ice edge between 50° and 64° N, extending from the Labrador Sea to the Davis Strait, bordered by Labrador and southwestern Greenland. Wintering ivory gulls are commonly observed on the eastern coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador, occasionally appearing on the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the interior of Labrador. They also winter from October through June in the Bering Sea and Chukchi Seas, where they are most prevalent in the polynyas and ice packs.

Vagrant Behavior

The ivory gull is known to be a vagrant species, occasionally straying beyond its typical range. Along the coastal regions of Canada and the northeastern United States, sightings of ivory gulls have been reported, although records of individuals have been documented as far south as California and Georgia. Additionally, sightings have been reported in the British Isles. The majority of these sightings occur between late November and early March. Interestingly, juveniles tend to wander farther from the Arctic than adults, exhibiting a propensity for exploration beyond their usual habitat. How AI, ChatGPT maximizes earnings of many people in minutes

Breeding Range

In North America, the ivory gull exclusively breeds within the Canadian Arctic region. Seymour Island in Nunavut hosts the largest known breeding colony, while Ellesmere, Devon, Cornwallis, and North Baffin islands are also recognized as breeding locations. Despite these known colonies, it is believed that there may be additional small breeding colonies with fewer than six birds that remain undiscovered. Notably, there is no documented information about ivory gull breeding activities in Alaska.

Migration Patterns

Ivory gulls exhibit short-distance migration patterns during the autumn months. While some individuals may venture to more temperate areas, the majority of the population winters in northern latitudes, primarily along the edge of the pack ice. This migration behavior allows the ivory gulls to access suitable feeding grounds during the winter months. Motivation – Mind – Success – Thinking – Productivity – Happiness

Dietary Preferences

The ivory gull has a diverse diet, consisting mainly of fish and crustaceans. Additionally, it preys on rodents, eggs, and small chicks. However, it is also known to be an opportunistic scavenger, feeding on carrion such as seal or porpoise carcasses. Interestingly, ivory gulls have been observed following polar bears and other predators to feed on the remains of their kills, showcasing their adaptable foraging behavior.

Reproductive Behavior

Breeding among ivory gulls occurs on Arctic coasts and cliffs. The nesting sites typically consist of ground nests lined with moss, lichens, or seaweed, providing a comfortable and protective environment for the eggs. Ivory gulls typically lay one to three olive-colored eggs during the breeding season, contributing to the perpetuation of their species in the harsh Arctic environment. Business – Money Making – Marketing – E-commerce


These graceful birds face threats from several predators during their breeding season. The main culprits include:

  • Arctic foxes: These cunning predators are adept at raiding nests and preying on eggs and chicks.
  • Glaucous gulls: These larger gulls are known to steal eggs and chicks from ivory gull nests, posing a significant threat to their breeding success.
  • Polar bears: In years with limited access to their usual prey, polar bears can devastate entire breeding colonies by consuming eggs and chicks.

Male Ivory Gull

The male ivory gull stands out with its pristine white plumage, complemented by black legs and a distinctive pale blue-green bill tipped with yellow. During the breeding season, males may sport a striking red eye ring, adding a vibrant touch to their appearance. Health books, guides, exercises, habits, Diets, and more

Female Ivory Gull

Similarly elegant, female ivory gulls exhibit the same immaculate white feathers, along with black legs and a pale blue-green bill adorned with a yellow tip. While lacking the red eye-ring of breeding males, females exude grace and beauty throughout the year.

Ivory Gull Nest

Nesting in small colonies, ivory gulls favor cliff ledges near coastal areas or inland locations. They construct their nests using a combination of seaweed, mud, and assorted debris, often forming a shallow depression at the nest’s crown to cradle their eggs. In some instances, minimal nesting material is used, with eggs laid directly on the chosen surface. Fitness – Meditation – Diet – Weight Loss – Healthy Living – Yoga

Ivory Gull Chick

Newly hatched ivory gull chicks emerge covered in soft, downy white feathers, lending them a fluffy appearance. Completely reliant on their parents for sustenance and warmth, these chicks quickly develop and molt their downy feathers as they mature, eventually transitioning into the stunning white adults characteristic of their species.


The ivory gull typically lays one to three olive-colored eggs, adorned with intricate brown speckling. These eggs are carefully placed in a simple ground nest lined with moss, lichens, or seaweed. Both parents share the responsibility of incubating the eggs for approximately a month until the chicks hatch, emerging with white downy plumage and quickly becoming mobile. RPM 3.0 – 60% CONVERSION & Money for Affiliate Marketing


Upon hatching, ivory gull chicks emerge adorned in fluffy down feathers, offering essential insulation against the extreme cold of the Arctic environment. This down, typically pale gray or white, not only provides warmth but also serves as a form of camouflage amidst their snowy nesting grounds. As these chicks mature, their down gradually sheds, eventually giving way to the pristine white plumage characteristic of adult ivory gulls.


Ivory gulls have evolved several remarkable adaptations to cope with the challenges of their icy habitat. Their compact body size plays a crucial role in minimizing heat loss, allowing them to conserve precious warmth in the frigid Arctic conditions. Additionally, a thick layer of subcutaneous fat serves as an effective insulating barrier against the cold, ensuring their survival in harsh climates. Furthermore, their small bills help minimize heat loss from the head, while feathered feet provide traction and warmth when navigating icy surfaces. Bird accessories on Amazon


In contrast to many migratory bird species, ivory gulls are not known for undertaking extensive long-distance migrations. Instead, they exhibit nomadic movements, closely tied to the availability of sea ice and their prey. During the breeding season, ivory gulls congregate in colonies nestled atop sea ice cliffs, where they engage in courtship rituals and raise their young. As winter approaches, they disperse across the Arctic pack ice, adapting their movements to follow shifting ice patterns and locate food sources. This flexible migration strategy allows them to thrive in the dynamic and ever-changing Arctic ecosystem.

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