Family Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)

Near Threatened

Ivory Gull (Pagophila eburnea)


French: Mouette blanche German: Elfenbeinmöwe Spanish: Gaviota marfileña

Larus Eburneus


, 1774,



Occasionally placed in genus Larus, but has very different display repertoire; morphometric analysis shows no constant link with any other species. Monotypic.


Almost circumpolar in Arctic seas and pack ice, breeding from N Canada (Queen Elizabeth Is, N Baffin I) through Greenland, Svalbard, Franz Josef Land, Novaya Zemlya and Severnaya Zemlya to New Siberian Is and Herald I. Main wintering grounds around Baffin I, Davis Strait, Labrador Sea, SE Greenland and Bering Strait region.

Descriptive notes

40–48 cm; 520–700 g; wingspan 104–118 cm. Two-year gull. A very distinctive gull. Adult is pure white, with black legs and yellow-tipped blue-grey bill.... read more


Has a grating call “kriiaah” recalling Common Tern (Sterna hirundo). Also a melancholy,... read more


Breeds mainly on inaccessible cliffs (W Spitsbergen), on broken icefields and inland cliffs (... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly fish, shrimps, shellfish, algae, carrion, offal and animal faeces. In winter swallows large pieces of frozen food. Since part of its... read more


Arrives late Mar at Spitsbergen, Apr at Franz Josef Land, and late May in Canadian Arctic and N Greenland; breeds in brief period from late... read more


Spends most of year along ice edge, most birds dispersing only as far as edge of pack ice; in... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. Global population estimated at 19,000–27,000 individuals, roughly equivalent to 12,000–18,000... read more

Recommended citation

Burger, J., Gochfeld, M. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2019). Ivory Gull (Pagophila eburnea). 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 5 December 2019).