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Iceland Gull

Larus glaucoides

Length: 24 inches Wingspan: 54 inches Seasonality: Rare Visitor.
IID Keys: Very similar to Thayer's Gull,.  Pinkish legs, yellow-green bill with red spot, Very little dark grey on primaries

Iceland Gull - Larus glaucoidesThe Iceland Gull is a pale northern Gull, normally found in the Arctic in summer, and the northern Atlantic coast in winter.  It only actually occurs in Iceland during the winter months.  They are very closely related to the Thayer's Gull, and many believe them to be slightly different races of the same species.  Iceland Gulls are typically found further east in North America, while Thayer's Gulls are typically found further west.

Habitat: Breeds on rocky cliffs in the Arctic.  During winter and migration, most are still found in coastal regions, sometimes including the shores of the Great Lakes and other large inland water bodies.  

Diet: Primarily feeds on fish.  Will also feed on mollusks, crustaceans, eggs and young birds, berries, seeds, carrion, and human refuse.

Behavior: Forages by either walking along the ground, wading in shallow water, swimming on the water's surface, or dipping down to the water's surface while in flight.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota

Song: Clew-clew-clew, similar to a Herring Gull.

Migration: Breeds in the Arctic.  Most move only short distances south during the winter, with some reaching New England and the Great Lakes.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Iceland Gull sightings

Similar Species: Glaucous Gull, Thayer's Gull

Conservation Status: Populations stable, with some evidence of increases in recent decades.

Further Information: 1) Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Iceland Gull

2) Audubon Guide - Iceland Gull

3) BirdWeb - Iceland Gull

Photo Information: February 24th, 2009 - Southern New York state -- Photo by seabamirum


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Iceland Gull - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Rare to uncommon visitor in South Dakota. Sightings most often are below the Missouri River dams in winter.

Additional Iceland Gull Photos (coming soon!)