GLAUCOUS GULL – (Larus hyperboreus)
The Glaucous Gull is almost as large as the Great Black-backed Gull, at some 70 cm ((28 in.) long. They have no black feathers, and the back and wings are light grey. The head, neck, tail and under parts are white in the breeding adults. The bill is yellow with a red spot near the tip of the lower mandible. The eyes are yellow, and the legs and feet are pink. Non-breeding adults have beige streaks on the head and neck. Juveniles are mottled beige on white and have dark eyes. Their bill is pink with a black tip. For the first winter, glaucous gulls are similar to juveniles but with more white in the plumage. Both sexes are similar. The glaucous gull will hybridize with the Herring Gull.
The English name ‘Glaucous’ is a color, blue-grey or green. The Latin name ‘Larus’ stands for a gull, and ‘hyperboreus’ is from ancient Greek and refers to the North.
As with many gull species, the Glaucous gull is omnivorous, so will feed on whatever food or prey is available, such as fish, carrion, insects, small mammals and seeds. This gull also actively preys on unattended eggs and chicks in seabird colonies. It will also steal food from other birds. Because of its opportunistic diet, in the winter this gull can be found at garbage dumps, farm fields, even urban areas.
The glaucous gull builds a nest on the ground in the tundra near the coast, or on cliffs or slopes, either alone or small colonies. Its call is similar to that of the Herring Gull.
The glaucous gull does not breed on PEI, however its presence has been observed for all seasons on the island, varying from ‘accidental’ to ‘rare’ to ‘uncommon’. This species of gull breeds in the high Arctic around the globe, and for the winter it migrates along the coasts of North America, Europe and Asia.
Conservation: the glaucous gull is widespread and common, and its breeding population located away from human disturbance (at the present time). Thanks also to its varied diet it not a species of concern.