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.
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: #http://www.aerc.eu/DOCS/Bird_taxa_of _the_WP15.xls#.
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
Larus glaucoides (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into L. glaucoides and L. thayeri following AOU (1998).
The Iceland Gull breeds in the Arctic regions of Canada
and Greenland (to Denmark), and outside the breeding season can be found wintering in the northernmost states of the eastern USA
as far inland as the great lakes, on Iceland
, the United Kingdom
, the north coast of Norway
, the southern tip of Scandinavia and the northern tip of Germany
(del Hoyo et al.
1996). Population justification
Total regarded as a minimum by Wetlands International (2006).Trend justification
The overall population trend is stable (Wetlands International 2006). This species has undergone a large and statistically significant increase over the last 40 years in North America (2200% increase over 40 years, equating to a 117% increase per decade; data for Larus glaucoides and L. thayeri combined, from Breeding Bird Survey and/or Christmas Bird Count: Butcher and Niven 2007).EcologyBehaviour
Northernmost populations of this species are strongly migratory whereas others (e.g. in Greenland) only disperse locally along the coast after breeding (del Hoyo et al.
. The species breeds from mid-May to July (Richards 1990)
in solitary pairs or in small single- or mixed-species colonies (del Hoyo et al.
of up to several hundred pairs (Snow and Perrins 1998). In late-July after breeding the species may move to coastal feeding areas, the departure from the breeding grounds occurring in August or September
(del Hoyo et al.
The species inhabits rocky coasts and fjords with steep cliffs (Richards 1990)
, offshore stacks and undisturbed low islands for nesting on
, also foraging in the intertidal zone (del Hoyo et al.
. After breeding the species remains in similar habitats (Snow and Perrins 1998)
but often disperses to harbours, refuse tips, sewage outfalls and inland reservoirs, although it generally avoids freshwater habitats (del Hoyo et al.
Its diet consists predominantly of small fish (e.g. salmon Salmo
spp., sprat Sprattus
spp. and herring Clupea
spp.) and marine invertebrates as well as bird eggs and chicks (del Hoyo et al.
1996) (especially of Black-legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla
) (Snow and Perrins 1998)
, seeds and fruits (del Hoyo et al.
. Breeding site
The nest is constructed of dry grass, seaweed and moss on large, flat ledges
of steep coastal cliffs greater than 100-200 m in height (Richards 1990, del Hoyo et al.
, or on offshore stacks or on the ground on undisturbed low coastal islands (del Hoyo et al.
The species is extensively hunted by local people in Greenland (del Hoyo et al.
del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Richards, A. 1990. Seabirds of the northern hemisphere. Dragon's World Ltd, Limpsfield, U.K.
Snow, D. W.; Perrins, C. M. 1998. The Birds of the Western Palearctic vol. 1: Non-Passerines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
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
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L., Calvert, R.
IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Larus glaucoides. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 29/09/2016.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 29/09/2016.
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.