WatchList Species Account for Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides)


Qualifies for the list as a Declining Yellow List Species


Iceland Gull by Glen Tepke

Photo: Glen Tepke

Breeding in discontinuous coastal colonies on rocky precipices in western Greenland and the western Canadian Arctic, the Iceland Gull winters in areas of open water surrounded by sea ice in western Greenland, in coastal waters of Iceland, and in the coast of the Atlantic provinces south along the coast as far as North Carolina and inland to the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. Small numbers winter annually at Niagara Falls.


The Iceland Gull is closely related to the Thayer’s and Glaucous gulls, and its taxonomy is unstable and controversial. It feeds on fish, carrion, offal near settlements, marine invertebrates, and the eggs and young of other birds. It feeds principally on items taken from the surface of the sea, but also forages at garbage dumps and sewage plants. It is preyed on by Gyrfalcon, Peregrine Falcon, and Arctic Fox. Its populations in southwestern and eastern Greenland is estimated at 40,000 pairs. Ingestion of oil is responsible for some mortality; the bird is thought to be more susceptible to such conamination as it takes the major part of its food from the surface. Ingestion of plastics has been found in this species.