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Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus
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This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Distribution and population
This species breeds in the Arctic regions of the northern hemisphere. Birds breeding in northern Europe and Asia tend to remain near the colony year-round. Breeders in North America migrate south, being found in the North Pacific from California (USA) round to the extreme south-east of Russia, off the western coast of North America down to Virginia, and the Atlantic coast of Europe down to Brittany, France including the United Kingdom and Ireland1.

Population justification
The global population is estimated to number c.340,000-2,400,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while national population sizes have been estimated at > c.1,000 wintering individuals in Japan and c.10,000-1 million breeding pairs and > c.1,000 individuals on migration in Russia (Brazil 2009).

Trend justification
The overall population trend is stable, although some populations have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006). This species has undergone a small or statistically insignificant increase over the last 40 years in North America (data from Breeding Bird Survey and/or Christmas Bird Count: Butcher and Niven 2007) Note, however, that these surveys cover less than 50% of the species's range in North America.

Behaviour Most populations of this species migrate southwards after breeding although some western Palearctic breeders remain on their breeding grounds throughout the year (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species breeds from mid-May to mid-June (the timing depending on latitude and ice conditions) in solitary pairs or small colonies (del Hoyo et al. 1996), departing the breeding grounds from September to mid-October (Olsen and Larsson 2003). Outside of the breeding season the species is gregarious and occurs in small or large flocks, up to tens of thousands gathering where food is temporarily abundant (Snow and Perrins 1998) during the winter (e.g. at fishing harbours) (Olsen and Larsson 2003). Habitat It breeds on sea cliffs and inshore islands (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998), particularly near human settlements and often near colonies of other gulls or geese (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species may also breed on islands in lakes near the coast (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998) or on the edges of coastal lagoons (Snow and Perrins 1998). Throughout the year the species forages over coasts, bays, harbours, inshore waters with sewage outfalls, the intertidal zone, land-fill sites, fishing wharves and large inland lakes (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Diet Its diet consists of fish, molluscs, Echinoderms, crustaceans, rodents, adult and young birds, eggs (especially of ducks, auks and shorebirds), insects, berries and carrion (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding site The nest is a mound of seaweed and debris (del Hoyo et al. 1996) usually placed on the edges of cliffs, rock pinnacles (del Hoyo et al. 1996), rocky outcrops (Snow and Perrins 1998), slopes (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and occasionally on ice or snow (Snow and Perrins 1998).

The species is threatened by organohalogen pollution in its Arctic breeding range (Bustnes et al. 2004, Verreault et al. 2007) (there is evidence that organohalogen contaminants alter the species's basal metabolic rate (Verreault et al. 2007) and that organochlorines reduce the efficiency of its immune system (Bustnes et al. 2004)). In parts of its breeding range the species is also being displaced by Herring Gull Larus argentatus (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Utilisation First year birds are hunted in Greenland, mainly between August and November (Evans 1984).

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

Bustnes, J. O.; Hanssen, S. A.; Folstad, I.; Erikstad, K. E.; Hasselquist, D.; Skaare, J. U. 2004. Immune Function and Organochlorine Pollutants in Arctic Breeding Glaucous Gulls. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 47: 530-541.

del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., and Sargatal, J. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Evans, P. G. H. 1984. The seabirds of Greenland: their status and conservation. In: Croxall, J. P.; Evans, P. G. H.; Schreiber, R. W. (ed.), Status and conservation of the world's seabirds, pp. 49-84. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, UK.

Gaston, A. J.; Gilchrist, H. G.; Mallory, M. L. 2005. Variation in ice conditions has strong effects on the breeding of marine birds at Prince Leopold Island, Nunavut. Ecography 28: 331-344.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Olsen, K. M.; Larsson, H. 2004. Gulls of Europe, Asia and North America. Christopher Helm, London.

Snow, D.W. and Perrins, C.M. 1998. The Birds of the Western Palearctic, Volume 1: Non-Passerines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Verreault, J.; Bech, C.; Letcher, R. J.; Ropstad, E.; Dahl, E.; Gabrielsen, G. W. 2007. Organohalogen contamination in breeding glaucous gulls from the Norwegian Arctic: Associations with basal metabolism and circulating thyroid hormones. Environmental Pollution 145: 138-145.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Calvert, R., Ekstrom, J. & Malpas, L.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Larus hyperboreus. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Laridae (Gulls, Terns, Skimmers)
Species name author Gunnerus, 1767
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 2,430,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment