Ross’s Gull (Rhodostethia rosea) Description

ross’s gull

Named after the British explorer James Clark Ross, Ross’s gull, scientific name Rhodostethia rosea is a small gull, lives greatly in Arctic places, one species in its genus, though it has been recommended it needs to be moved to the genus Hydrocoloeus, which in any other case solely consists of the little gull.

Ross’s gull facts

Its breeding grounds have been first found in 1905 by Sergei Aleksandrovich Buturlin close to the village of Pokhodsk in North-Jap Yakutia, whereas visiting the world as a choice.

The genus identify Rhodostethia is from Historic Greek rhodon, “rose”, and stethos, “breast”. The particular rosea is Latin for “rose-colored”.

The Ross’s Gull is a small, dove-like gull, hardly ever seen the exterior of the excessive Arctic the place it breeds in distant areas.

Inbreeding plumage, the white underparts are conspicuously washed pink, and a slender black ring will be seen across the neck, creating a wonderful distinction with the pale plumage.

This scarce and good gull is among the many most sought-after birds in NW Europe and N America. As quickly as this species seems someplace, quite a few bird-lovers are capable of journey lengthy distances to see it.

The Ross’s Gull is called after the good Arctic explorer James Clark Ross, who described this chicken for the primary time in 1823.


Size: 29-32 cm
Wingspan: 82-92 cm
Weight: 120-250 g

The Ross’s Gull has comparatively lengthy wings and a wedge-shaped tail. The grownup in breeding plumage has pale gray upper parts.

On the upper wing, secondaries and tricks to inside primaries are white, whereas the outermost major exhibits darkish outer internet.

Throughout the summer season, a slender, black ring encircles the higher neck. The white underparts are normally washed pink. The underwing-coverts are darkish gray with a broad white trailing edge.

The invoice is black. The eyes are darkish brown surrounded by purple eyering. Legs and webbed ft are vibrant purple or reddish-orange.

The Ross’s Gull in non-breeding plumage lacks the black collar and the pink wash (or it is vitally pale).

The crown could seem pale greyish and the eyes are surrounded by vague blackish flecks. There’s a small, black spot on the ear-coverts. The trailing edge, upper tail coverts, and rectrices are white.

The juvenile Ross’s gull has a blackish-brown mantle, scapulars, crown, hindneck, and sides of the breast.

The primary winter has pale gray crown, hindneck, neck sides, and breast, contrasting barely with the whiter hood. In-flight, secondaries, and inside primaries are very white and the W sample on the upper wing is black. On the upper tail, the central rectrices are tipped black.


The Ross’s Gull breeds in NE Siberia, from Taymyr Peninsula E to Kolyma River. It additionally breeds domestically in Greenland and irregularly in N Canada. It winters primarily in the Arctic, however, their wintering grounds are poorly identified.

Nevertheless, from current observations by the Excessive Arctic Gull Analysis Group based mostly in Bamfield, Vancouver Island, a really small colony has been discovered on a small Arctic island. Some birds have been tagged with digital locators as a way to observe them by means of the winter.

The Ross’s gull overwinters off the very inhospitable coasts of Labrador, which explains what this species has not been seen earlier than. However, these harsh surroundings seem very appropriate for Ross’s Gull.

Ross’s gull breeds within the excessive Arctic of northernmost North America, and northeast Siberia.

It migrates solely brief distances south in autumn, a lot of the inhabitants wintering in northern latitudes on the fringe of the pack ice within the northern Bering Sea and within the Sea of Okhotsk, though some birds attain extra temperate areas, resembling northwest Europe; in February 2016 they have been sighted in Cornwall and Eire in line with the BTOs ‘BirdTrack’.

In North America, Ross’s gull has been noticed as far south as the Salton Sea in California, though sightings this far south are extraordinarily uncommon.

The summer season breeding grounds are tundra with sedges, grass tussocks, dwarf willows, bushes, lichens, and swimming pools.

The Ross’s Gull breeds in quite a lot of Arctic habitats, amongst open moist tundra, in marshy tundra, giant bogs in the forest, gravel reefs, normally at all times close to water.

They usually breed near colonies of Arctic Terns. The identified websites are hummocks lined with grass, dwarf willows, and areas with grasses and sedges near swimming pools and shallow lakes.

Nesting websites have been discovered on low-lying gravel reefs near polynyas and opening within the sea ice.

Outdoors breeding season, the Ross’s Gull is present in open seas and on the fringe of the pack ice. Vagrants are sometimes seen with different Laridae at coastal websites.

This small chicken is comparable in dimension and a few plumage traits to the little gull. It’s barely bigger and longer winged than that species and has more pointed wings and a wedge-shaped tail.

Its legs are purple. Summertime adults are pale gray above and white beneath, with a pink flush to the breast, and a neat black neck ring.

In winter, the breast tints and neck collar are misplaced and a small darkish crescent develops behind the attention.

Younger birds resemble winter adults, however, they have a darkish “W” sample on the wings in flight, like younger little gulls. The juveniles take two years to realize full grownup plumage.

Ross's gull Rhodostethia rosea

Ross’s gull Biology

The Ross’s gull breeds in small colonies on tundras and swampy Arctic estuaries, usually nesting with different seabirds resembling Arctic terns.

It lays two to a few eggs in a nest on the bottom lined with seaweed, grass, or moss, usually on an island in a bit of a lake. The eggs are olive inexperienced with small reddish-brown spots.

Incubation takes about three weeks and the chicks fledge in one other three weeks. Not all pairs efficiently rear their younger as predators and unhealthy climate usually take their toll.

This chicken will eat any appropriate small prey resembling small fish and crustaceans, and through the winter usually feeds on mudflats like a wader. In the course of the breeding season, it’s largely insectivorous, feeding on beetles and flies.

Calls and Sound of the Ross’s Gull

Ross’s Gull offers high-pitched and extra melodious calls than most Laridae species. On the breeding grounds, it offers brief, dry, yapping calls “a-dac a-dac a-dac” or “de-urr de-urr”. The alarm name is a fast collection “kik kik kik kik kik”. Throughout winter, vagrants give comfortable, excessive “kew”.

Behavior in wild

The Ross’s Gull feeds primarily on bugs through the breeding season. Throughout migrations and winter, it feeds on crustaceans, small fish, marine worms and doubtless plankton. It additionally takes carrion and refuses sometimes.

In the course of the breeding season, the Ross’s Gull usually advantages from the aggressive defense behavior of the Arctic Tern.

Some courtship shows will be noticed, with two birds going through one another with raised tails whereas giving comfortable calls. One other show exhibits the birds shut to one another and standing aspect by aspect, after which circling one another by strolling.

The Ross’s Gull nests in unfastened colonies of 2-10 pairs, with the nests, positioned between 45 and 100 meters aside, hardly ever lower than 5 meters.

The adults defend the chicks aggressively in opposition to intruders and predators, and sometimes carry out numerous distraction shows to steer them away from the colony.

The Ross’s Gull is migratory and strikes N to the Arctic Ocean by late July after breeding. Then, each autumn, they migrate E or W alongside the coast or pack ice’s edge.

It returns to the breeding grounds in late Could, relying on snow and ice circumstances. Nevertheless, the actions of this species are nonetheless poorly identified.

Flocks are recorded in some locations, however, their migrations must be extra studied.

The Ross’s Gull has fast flight motion, considerably pigeon-like, with a fast direct flight on lengthy wings and performing fast wingbeats. It additionally hovers whereas foraging.


The Ross’s Gull spends about two months on its breeding grounds, and the laying happens in early to mid-June.

It breeds in unfastened colonies in tussocks on islands, in tundra or taiga swimming pools, amongst willow scrub, in marshy and wooded areas, usually on a hummock and near water.

The nest is shallow despair within the floor, made with grass, sedge, and moss, and lined with dry grass and items of different plant materials.

The feminine lays 1-Three eggs and each adult shares the incubation for 3 weeks.

At hatching, the downy chicks are yellowish to rusty-brown with darkish spots and contours on the crown, again, and wings. The underparts are whitish.

The adults lead the chick away from the colony one week after hatching, and they’re unattended. The younger birds kind teams at water edges. They fledge about 20 days after hatching.

Protection, threat, and status:

Ross’s Gull is commonly attacked by the Peregrine Falcon whereas eggs and chicks are taken by bigger gulls, arctic foxes, and polar bears.

Human disturbances at nesting websites in Churchill space have led to the abandonment of nests.

The event of oil extraction in Beaufort and Chukchi Seas is a possible risk to the big concentrations of Ross’s Gulls through the autumn.

The consequences of local weather change are presently unknown however may have a detrimental influence on the copy of the species.

The inhabitants are estimated to a variety of 25,000/100,000 people (2006). Ross’s Gull is presently evaluated as Least Concern and advantages from a number of protections.

It forages by flying low over the water, then dropping to the floor with head and physique partly submerged. It hovers whereas selecting meals from the floor.

It additionally forages by swimming but it surely wades and walks in shallow water.

It normally forages alone or in unfastened flocks. They observe the ships by means of the ice and take the disturbing prey. They could collect round carcasses of lifeless sea mammals too.

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