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Thayer's Gull

Larus glaucoides thayeri

Length: 24 inches Wingspan: 55 inches Seasonality: Rare Winter Visitor
ID Keys: Light mantle, dark eyes, limited dark in wing-tips, shorter thinner bill than similar species, pink legs

Thayer's Gull - Larus glaucoides thayeriThe Thayer's Gull was once considered a slightly smaller sub-species of the Herring Gull, and is very similar.  Its status has been in flux for a number of years, with some still considering a race of Herring Gull, and others calling it and the Iceland Gull different races of the same species.  Thayer's Gulls are typically darker on the wingtips than Iceland Gulls, while Iceland Gulls may have very little darker feathering in the wingtips.  The "Kumlien's Gull" is considered to be a hybrid of Thayer's and Iceland Gulls, and some consider them all one species, ranging from the darker Thayer's in the west to the lighter Iceland in the east.  Thayer's Gulls also readily interbreed with multiple other species on the West Coast, including Glaucous-winged and Western Gulls, making identification of Thayer's Gulls and hybrid gulls even more difficult.  (NOTE: In 2017, the American Ornithological Union officially eliminated Thayer's Gull as a distinct species, instead declaring them to be a sub-species of the Iceland Gull).

Habitat: Summer habitat is rocky island coasts in the Arctic.  Winters primarily along coastal areas, including areas well offshore. Will forage inland from the coast, but rarely found well inland.

Diet: Wide variety of items, including fish, squid, crustaceans, eggs and young birds, berries, carrion, and refuse.

Behavior: Uses a variety of foraging techniques, from dipping from the water's surface while in flight to grabbing food items while swimming or walking on land.  They will also forage at landfills and refuse piles.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota

Song: Familiar gull's kee-yow

Migration: Summers in high Arctic.  Most winter along the Pacific Coast.  Rarely ventures inland.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Thayer's Gull sightings

Similar Species: Herring Gull, Glaucous-Winged Gull, Iceland Gull.  See Identification Tips.

Conservation Status: Nesting range is far from most direct human impact.  No noticeable trends in populations.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Thayer's Gull

2) Wikipedia - Thayer's Gull

3) BirdWeb - Thayer's Gull

Photo Information: December 18th, 2008 - San Francisco, California - Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Thayer's Gull photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Thayer's Gull - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Rare migrant and winter visitor, with the vast majority of sightings along the Missouri River and its impoundments.

Additional Thayer's Gull Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
 Thayer's Gull - Larus glaucoides thayeriThayer's Gull - Larus glaucoides thayeriThayer's Gull - Larus glaucoides thayeriThayer's Gull - Larus glaucoides thayeriThayer's Gull - Larus glaucoides thayeriThayer's Gull - Larus glaucoides thayeri