Common Name

Scientific Name

Photo by Unknown Photographer
Photo Courtesy of U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The glaucous gull, Larus hyperboreus, occurs in North America and Eurasia. In North America, it breeds on Arctic coasts and islands in the extreme north, and winters along the west coast, from the Bering Sea to California; along the east coast, from Hudson Bay to North Carolina; and in the Great Lakes region. It is a rare winter visitor to Utah, southern California, and parts of the central United States.

Glaucous gulls eat a large variety of food items; their diets include fishes, invertebrates, eggs, young birds, and small mammals. They will often chase and harass another bird until the bird drops or throws up its food, at which time the glaucous gull steals the item. Glaucous gulls nest in colonies along the edges of tundra lakes, often with other species. Individuals participate in complex courtship displays, after which a pair mates. The male and female build a saucer-shaped nest out of soft grass, and then line it with soft materials, such as feathers, often adding to nests built in previous years. Three eggs are incubated, and both parents share nest sitting duties for the month-long incubation period. Parents are very protective of the eggs and will defend the nest vigorously. The young leave the nest shortly after hatching, but parental care, by both the male and female, continues for another two months. The young are able to fly at about seven weeks of age, and will attain their adult plumage after four years.


  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birderís handbook[:] a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon & Schuster, New York. xxx + 785 pp.

  • National Geographic Society. 1996. Field guide to the birds of North America, 2nd edition. The National Geographic Society, Washington, D. C.

  • Peterson, R. T. 1966. A field guide to western birds, second edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.