IVORY GULL

IVORY GULL(Pagophila eburnea) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Ivory Gull adult is completely white. Bill is light blue with yellow tip. Eyes, legs and webbed feet are black. Juveniles have some faded black areas on the face and black specks on wings and tail. Their bill is black. Bird length is around 41 cm (16 inches).
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Pagophila-eburnea
NAME: ‘Gull’ would have its origins in Old Celtic ‘Gullan’ and other languages, including Latin ‘gula’ for throat. As per Choate this would be related to the gull’s ‘indiscriminate’ scavenging habits, its ‘willingness to swallow almost anything’ (think ‘gullible’). ‘Ivory’ refers to the adult bird’s white plumage. Latin genus name ‘Pagophila’ means ‘frost lover’, in reference to the bird’s Nordic habitat. Latin species name ‘eburnea’ means ‘ivory-colored’.
HABITAT: Mostly around edges of pack ice in Arctic.
DIET: Carrion and droppings, small fish and crustaceans, also some garbage. Follows polar bears to feed on carcass leftovers.
NESTING: Nests in colonies on rocky cliff ledges. Nest is shallow depression on the ground, lined with seaweed. One or two beige eggs are laid, incubated by both parents, who also both feed the chick(s).
DISTRIBUTION: Breeds on Arctic islands. Outside breeding season can be found on the Arctic Ocean, the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Pacific Ocean north of the Aleutian Islands.
Distribution Map: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivory_gull – /media/File:Pagophila_eburnea_map.svg
ON PEI: Does not breed on Prince Edward Island, sightings listed as ‘accidental’ so far. See note below on bird vagrancy.
CONSERVATION: The ivory gull is considered as ‘near threatened’ by IUCN, population is small and in decline, possibly related to reduction of Arctic ice due to climate change.
NOTES: This gull will regurgitate pellets of undigested material just like owls, especially when eating lots of lemmings.
Vagrancy: In biology this means an animal going way outside its normal range. For birds, this can happen when there are storms and they get blown off course. On other times, the bird simply wanders in a different direction than usual. Here’s an article about vagrancy in birds.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Ross’s Gull
REFERENCES: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivory_gull
http://www.npolar.no/en/species/ivory-gull.html (Norwegian Polar Institute)
https://www.spitsbergen-svalbard.com/spitsbergen-information/wildlife/ivory-gull.html
https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/ivory-gull
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Ivory_Gull/lifehistory#
https://app.bto.org/birdfacts/results/bob6040.htm (British Trust for Ornithology)
http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/1050/overview/Ivory_Gull.aspx

Ivory Gull, adult plumage - Bering Sea region - May 2007 - photo by jomilo75
Ivory Gull, adult plumage – Bering Sea region – May 2007 – photo by jomilo75
Ivory Gull, 1st winter plumage - Iceland - Nov. 2012 - photo by Ómar Runólfsson
Ivory Gull, 1st winter plumage – Iceland – Nov. 2012 – photo by Ómar Runólfsson

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