My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Glaucous Gull, Larus hyperboreus

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

Glaucous Gull, Larus hyperboreus


The glaucous gull is a large gull which breeds in the Arctic regions of the northern hemisphere and the Atlantic coasts of Europe. It is migratory, wintering from in the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans as far south as the British Isles and northernmost states of the USA, also on the Great Lakes. A few birds sometimes reach the southern USA and northern Mexico.

This species breeds colonially or singly on coasts and cliffs, making a lined nest on the ground or cliff. Normally, 2–4 light brown eggs with dark chocolate splotches are laid.

This is a large and powerful gull, very pale in all plumages, with no black on either of the wings or the tail. The term glaucous describes its colouration. Adults are pale grey above, with a thick yellow bill. Immatures are very pale grey with a pink and black bill. This species is considerably larger, bulkier and thicker-billed than the similar Iceland Gull, and can sometimes equal the size of the Great Black-backed Gull, the largest gull species. They can weigh anywhere from 960 to 2,700 g (2.12 to 5.95 lb), averaging 1.55 kg (3.4 lb) in males and 1.35 kg (3.0 lb) in females. These gulls range from 55 to 77 cm (22 to 30 in) in length and can span 132 to 170 cm (52 to 67 in) across the wings. Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 40.8 to 50.1 cm (16.1 to 19.7 in), the bill is 4.9 to 6.9 cm (1.9 to 2.7 in) and the tarsus is 6 to 7.7 cm (2.4 to 3.0 in). They take four years to reach maturity. The call is a “laughing” cry similar to that of the Herring Gull but deeper.

These are omnivores like most Larus gulls, and they will eat fish, insects, molluscs, starfish, offal, scraps, eggs, small birds, small mammals and carrion as well as seeds, berries and grains.


On to my photos:


Iceland gull

Glaucous Gull, Larus hyperboreus

Iceland gull

Glaucous Gull, Larus hyperboreus

Iceland gull

Glaucous Gull, Larus hyperboreus

Iceland gull

Glaucous Gull, Larus hyperboreus


Glaucous Gull, Larus hyperboreus

This is number 157 in my photo life list, only 193 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!



8 responses

  1. Nice pic.

    May 20, 2014 at 2:18 am

    • Thank you.

      May 20, 2014 at 6:28 am

  2. A powerful looking gull. Unusual to see a gull with no black markings at all.

    May 20, 2014 at 8:50 am

    • Thanks Clare, that’s what caught my eye, no black on the gull at all, and that’s a key feature to identify this species.

      May 20, 2014 at 8:58 am

  3. Loved the pictures of the gull in flight, thank you.

    May 20, 2014 at 10:01 am

    • Thank you!

      May 20, 2014 at 1:43 pm

  4. Nice shots of his upper wings. This one looks built for speed, like a racer.

    May 20, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    • Thanks, if I hadn’t seen the upper wings with no black, I would have thought that this was just another ring-billed gull. They may look speedy, but like most gulls, they are designed to glide with very little flapping.

      May 20, 2014 at 4:28 pm