Iceland Gull

Scientific name: Larus glaucoides

Did you know: Despite their name, Iceland Gulls don’t actually breed in Iceland. They are winter visitors, seen in Iceland and as far south as Britain and New York.

What Do Iceland Gulls Look Like? (how to identify them)

Iceland Gulls are birds that are medium in size with a gentle, dove-like appearance. 

Their distinguishing features include a rounded head, a relatively small beak, and exceptionally pale plumage. Notably, they possess white wingtips, earning them the nickname ‘white-winged’ gulls.

Differences Between Male And Female Iceland Gulls

Both sexes of Iceland Gulls are similar in appearance, but males are generally slightly larger. 

They have a pale grey back, yellow bill, white head and neck, and smudged brownish markings in winter. The wingtips are variable, often grey to white in the East and darker in the West. 

Juveniles and immatures exhibit a blend of brown and white plumage with darker bills.

What Do Iceland Gulls Eat?

Iceland Gulls primarily feed on fish, both alive and as carrion. They are opportunistic feeders and are known to scavenge at rubbish tips, sewage outlets, and places where fish are cleaned. 

During the summer, they may also consume berries, algae, and terrestrial plants.

Where Do Iceland Gulls Live? (inc. migration info)

Breeding in the high Arctic, these gulls prefer coastal cliffs and open waters among pack ice. They are migratory, wintering along coasts, often foraging near shores, on beaches, and in human-altered landscapes like farmland and rubbish tips. 

Their range extends from the Arctic regions of Canada and Greenland to the British Isles and northernmost states of the eastern United States.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Iceland Gulls)

The vocalisations of Iceland Gulls resemble a ‘laughing’ cry, akin to that of the Herring Gull, but at a higher pitch. They are generally quieter at sea and do not have a distinct song.

Fun Iceland Gull Facts (kid friendly)

  • Iceland Gulls have a wingspan of 130-158cm, perfect for their graceful flight.
  • They weigh about 750g and measure 52-60 cm in length.
  • Their beak colour changes with seasons, ranging from yellow to red.
  • They are not assessed for conservation status, but their unique behaviours make them fascinating.
  • These gulls can live up to 33 years in the wild!
  • They are excellent scavengers and can be seen foraging near human settlements.
  • Despite their name, they don’t breed in Iceland but visit during winters.
  • Iceland Gulls take four years to reach maturity.
  • They breed in remote Arctic locations, making them a rare sight.
  • Young gulls are fed by their parents through regurgitation of softened food.

Iceland Gull Images

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Male
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Female
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Hatchling
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Nestling
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Chick
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Fledgling
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Juvenile

Facts About The Iceland Gull

Diet: Fish - alive or as carrion.
Bird Family: Gulls and terns
Length: 52-60cm
Wingspan: 130-158cm
Weight: 750g
Scientific Name: Larus glaucoides

The Iceland Gull Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • November
  • December