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Recent Sighting:

Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides

Order: Charadriiformes — Family: Laridae


In all plumages Iceland Gulls can be distinguished from most other gulls by the distinctively pale, mostly white, primaries with no sign of any black in the wing. The Glaucous Gull has a similar wing pattern but the Iceland Gull is a smaller bird about the size of a Herring Gull though slimmer, longer-winged and with a more delicate-looking head and bill. Immatures are mostly a pale creamy-brown with more extensive and less contrasting black in the bill than on a young Glaucous.


The bill pattern differs though, in Iceland, it is almost completely dark in the first winter, but in the second winter, dark with a contrasting pale base.


Their calls are similar to those of other large gulls.


Sexes similar.




The Greenland population is mostly sedentary but some winter in Iceland, the Faeroes, and parts of the British Isles and Norway.


Winters on estuaries, coasts, reservoirs and rubbish tips.


Mainly fish but also carrion.

Population trends

It is claimed that this species has bred on Novaya Zemlya in the 1990's but there is some debate about whether these records relate to small Glaucous Gulls.


Two races occur within the region. The nominate race L.g.glaucoides is a winter visitor from Greenland and the race L.g.kumlieni, with grey primary tips, is a rare vagrant from Canada.

Population in Britain and Ireland

As many as 300 birds now winter in Britain and Ireland.

Where in Britain and Ireland

An uncommon winter visitor in smaller numbers than Glaucous Gull, mainly to northern Scotland and Shetland, but can turn up anywhere.

Population in Europe

Around 10 000 breeding pairs in Greenland.

Where in Europe

Doesn't breed any nearer than Greenland, but is a regular winter visitor to parts of Britain, Norway, Denmark and, especially Iceland.

Best UK Site

Ullapool - Highland Large numbers of gulls, including Iceland and Glaucous, are attracted to Ullapool by the constant arrival of fishing trawlers and factory ships throughout the winter. The birds can be found anywhere around the harbour and fish quays or scavenging offshore around the factory ships and trawlers and are generally present between December and April. It is possible to find up to 30 Glaucous and 15 Iceland Gulls present during an influx year, but only 1-2 of both species in a poor year. [Taken from the book 'Finding Birds in Britain' by Lee Evans, which includes details of more sites for this species]


Colonial on cliff ledges and vegetation near rocky coasts.


2-3, laid in June. Incubation, fledging period and egg colouring are not known.1 brood per year.

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