Family Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Least Concern

Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus)


French: Goéland bourgmestre German: Eismöwe Spanish: Gavión hiperbóreo

Larus hyperboreus


, 1767,

northern Norway


Hybridizes with L. argentatus (in Iceland) and with L. glaucescens; possible hybridization with L. marinus recorded#R. Subspecific distinctions subtle; leuceretes sometimes considered undiagnosable#R and merged into nominate; re-evaluation needed. Species sometimes considered monotypic. Four subspecies normally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. h. hyperboreus Gunnerus, 1767 – Jan Mayen and Spitsbergen E to Taymyr Peninsula.
  • L. h. pallidissimus Portenko, 1939 – Taymyr Peninsula E to Bering Sea, including Pribilof Is.
  • L. h. barrovianus Ridgway, 1886 – coasts of W Alaska to W Canada (NW Mackenzie region).
  • L. h. leuceretes Schleep, 1819 – E Mackenzie region through N Canadian archipelago to Greenland and Iceland.
  • Winters S to N & CW Europe, N Pacific from E Asia S to Japan and from Aleutians to California, and NE North America.

    Descriptive notes

    60–77 cm; 1070–1820 g; wingspan 132–162 cm. Four-year gull. One of the largest gulls but varies considerably in size; the largest males are as large as ... read more


    The long call resembles that of L. argentatus but is slightly hoarser. Has a two-part “k-... read more


    Frequents coasts, bays, harbours, landfill sites and fishing wharves; rarely large inland lakes.... read more

    Food and feeding

    A generalist and opportunistic predator. Frequent dietary items include fish, molluscs, crustaceans, rodents, birds, eggs and young of... read more


    Synchronous laying occurs from mid May to mid-Jun, depending on latitude and ice conditions; strong selection for early nesting because of... read more


    Partially migratory. Adults leave Greenland in early Sept whereas young linger until freeze-up... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). The total population is over 200,000 pairs and possibly considerably more. These include 85,000 pairs in Alaska (race barrovianus... read more

    Recommended citation

    Burger, J., Gochfeld, M. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 26 February 2020).