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Glaucous Gull

These birds are known for their pale gray and white plumage and large size.

If the distribution of the Glaucous Gull was to be shown on a globe of the earth, it would encircle the top of the sphere, following arctic coastlines. From this northern breeding range, Glaucous Gulls often move considerably southward for the winter, sometimes as far as the Gulf Coast where its large size and pale plumage make it stand out.

Taking four years to reach adult plumage, Glaucous Gulls are not known to breed at a younger age. Weather, starvation, and predation can all take a toll on Glaucous Gull nests, but if the young survive, they have the potential for a long life. The oldest known Glaucous Gull was over 21 years old.

(Follow the links on the left for additional information.)


Description of the Glaucous Gull


The Glaucous Gull is a large, bulky gull with very pale gray upperparts, white underparts, a yellow bill with a red spot, and pale whitish wingtips. White head in breeding plumage.  Length: 27 in.  Wingspan: 60 in.

Glaucous Gull

Photograph © Greg Lavaty.


Same as male.

Seasonal change in appearance

Winter adults have streaked heads.


Similar to winter adults but have brownish markings on the upperparts and a pinkish, black-tipped bill. Adult plumage is reached in four years.


Coastal areas.


Fish, mollusks, and other marine life, as well as insects, eggs, and refuse.

Glaucous Gull

Photograph © Tom Grey.


Forages while walking, swimming, or in flight.


Breeds at high arctic latitudes and winters along the northern Pacific and Atlantic coasts and Great Lakes.

More information:

Bent Life History

Visit the Bent Life History for extensive additional information on the Glaucous Gull.

Wing Shape

The shape of a bird’s wing is often an indication of its habits and behavior. Fast flying birds have long, pointed wings. Soaring birds have long, broad wings. Different songbirds will have a slightly different wing shape. Some species look so much alike (Empidonax flycatchers) that scientists sometimes use the length of specific feathers to confirm a species’ identification.

Wing images from the University of Puget Sound, Slater Museum of Natural History

Fun Facts

Glaucous Gull pairs often remain together for many years.

Gyrfalcons can prey upon Glaucous Gulls in flight.


A series of “kek-kek-kek” calls are given when disturbed, and harsh alarm calls are given when danger is close.


Similar Species

The large gulls, in their various plumages, provide many interesting identification challenges. Experience and skill are required to work through the identification of many gulls.

Glacous-winged Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull has darker mantle than Glaucous Gull.  (the evenly colored upperparts in a gull, including the back and most of the wing surface, is called the mantle)

Iceland Gull
Iceland Gulls are smaller and have some black in the wingtips.  Glaucous Gulls have wingtips similar in color to the rest of the wing.



The nest is a mound of grass, moss, or seaweed and is placed on a cliff or rock.


Number: 2-4.Color: Olive or buff with darker markings.

Incubation and fledging:
– Young hatch at 27-28 days.
– Young fledge (leave the nest) in 45-50 days after hatching but remain with the adults for some time.


Bent Life History of the Glaucous Gull

Published by the Smithsonian Institution between the 1920s and the 1950s, the Bent life history series of monographs provide an often colorful description of the birds of North America. Arthur Cleveland Bent was the lead author for the series. The Bent series is a great resource and often includes quotes from early American Ornithologists, including Audubon, Townsend, Wilson, Sutton and many others.

Bent Life History for the Glaucous Gull – the common name and sub-species reflect the nomenclature in use at the time the description was written.


The name burgomaster is a fitting name for this chief magistrate of the feathered tribes of the Arctic seas, where it reigns supreme over all the lesser water fowl, levying its toll of food from their eggs and defenseless young. Well they know its strength and dread its power, as it sails majestically aloft over the somber, rocky cliffs of the Greenland coast, where, with myriads of sea fowl, it makes its summer home; and useless is it for them to resist the onslaught of its heavy beak when it swoops down to rob them of their callow young. Only the great skua, the fighting airship of the north, dares to give it battle and to drive the tyrant burgomaster from its chosen crag. Its only rival in size and power among the gulls is the great black-backed gull, and where these two meet on the Labrador coast they treat each other with dignified respect.

Spring: The glaucous gull is more oceanic in its habits than other large gulls. Though it resorts somewhat to inland lakes and rivers during migrations and in winter, it seems to prefer the cold, bleak, and rugged coasts of northern Labrador, Greenland, and the Arctic islands. whither it resorts in the spring as early as the rigors of the Arctic winter will allow. What few birds winter in southern Iludson Bay and the region of the Great Lakes, migrate across Ungava and through Hudson Straits to the Atlantic coast; but the main migration route is northward along the seacoast following the open leads in the ice with the first migration of the eiders. Kumlien (1879) says:

This gull is the first bird to arrive (at Cumberland Sound) in the spring. In 1878 they made their appearance in the Kingwah Fjord by the 20th of April. It was still about 70 miles to the floe edge and open water; still, they seemed to fare well on the young seals.

At Ivigtut. Greenland, according to Hagerup (1891), “some, chiefly young birds, remain over winter. An old bird, in complete summer dress, was shot on the 20th of March.” In Alaska, also, this species is the earliest migrant to arrive. Turner (1886) observes that they arrive at St. Michael by the middle of April, “sailing high in the air, almost out of sight. Their note, being the first intimation of their presence, is always gladly welcomed as a sign that the ice, farther south, is breaking up.” Nelson (1887) says:

They wander restlessly along the coast until the ponds open on the marshes near the sea, and then, about the last half of May, they are found straying singly or in pairs about the marshy ponds, where they seek their summer homes. Here they are among the noisiest of the wild fowl.

Grinnell (1900) noted their arrival in Kotzebue Sound May 11, 1899, when he “discovered 10 sitting close together out in the middle of the river ice.” Winter was still unbroken at this date, and there was no open water in the vicinity “so far as he knew.”:

Nesting:The southernmost breeding grounds of this species are in Newfoundland. Here in the summer of 1912 I saw them at several places, where they were probably nesting on the high and inaccessible rocky cliffs of the west coast. Other observers have also reported them from this region. Mr. J. R. Whitaker, of Grand Lake, told me that he had taken the eggs of this species on an island in Sandy Lake. While investigating a breeding colony of great blackbacked gulls on an island in Sandy Lake, on June 23, 1912, I saw a pair of glaucous gulls flying overhead. The young of all the gulls had hatched at that date and were hidden among the rocks and underbrush, so I did not succeed in identifying any young of the glaucous gull, but I have no reason to doubt that the pair had nested there, perhaps on one of the small rocky islets by themselves. Mr. Edward Arnold (1912) reports that “several pairs had their nests built out on large boulders in the center of ponds, but as the water was very cold and over our heads in depth we could not examine them.’:

On the Labrador coast in 1912 I found the glaucous gull common all along the coast from the Straits of Belle Isle northward. I saw a large breeding colony on the lofty cliffs of the Kigla-pait range between Nain and Okak. The nests were quite inaccessible on the narrow ledges of precipitous cliffs facing the sea. On August 2 we visited a breeding colony of 30 or 40 pairs of glaucous gulls on a rocky islet near Nain. It was a precipitous crag, rising abruptly from the sea to a height of 100 or 150 feet, unapproachable in rough weather, and an invulnerable castle except at one point, where we could land on a rock and climb up a steep grassy slope. Numerous black guillemots flew out from the lower crevices, and my companion, Mr. Donald B. MacMillan, succeeded in finding a few of their eggs still fairly fresh. Rev. Walter W. Perrett, of Nain, had taken a set of duck hawk’s eggs from the cliffs earlier in the season. The upper part of the rock was occupied by the gulls, where their nests were mostly on inaccessible ledges. Near the top of the rock, which was flat and covered with grass, we found quite a number of nests that we could reach, but all of these were empty. Below us we could see nests containing young of various ages and one nest still held two eggs. Some of the young were nearly ready to fly and probably some had already flown. The nests were made of soft grasses and mosses, and were not very elaborate or very bulky for such large gulls; probably they had been somewhat trampled down by the young.

Kumlien (1879) found the glaucous gull breeding abundantly in the Gumberland Sound region. He describes one nesting site as “an enormous cliff about 1~ miles in length and over 2,000 feet in height, and nearly perpendicular. This cliff is about 4 miles from the seashore to the east-northeast of America Harbor. Many hundreds of nests are scattered about on the little projecting shelves of rock, and the birds sitting on them look like little bunches of snow still unmelted on the cliff. The ascent to this locality is very laborious; but the marvelous beauty of the place will well repay any future explorer to visit it, for the plants that grow in such rich profusion at the base of the cliff, if nothing more.” He also says: I have examined some nests that were built on the duck islands, always on the highest eminence. The structure seemed to have been used and added to for many years in succession, probably by the same pair. In shape they were pyramid-formed mounds, over 4 feet at the base and about 1 foot at the top, and nearly 2j feet in height. They were composed of every conceivable object found in the vicinity, grass, seaweed, moss, lichens, feathers, hones, skin, egg shells, etc.

Regarding the breeding habits of this species in Greenland, Mr. J. D. Figgins writes me that on Saunders Island:

The nest Is composed of moss and grass, often of considerable height because of the yearly repair, always near the top of the cliffs and never approachable from below. The nests are rarely placed other than near rookeries of murres and other gnus, where the glaucous gulls prey upon the eggs and young. When the gulls make forays upon the murre and kittiwake rookeries, the latter birds make no defense whatever and, besides uttering their usual querulous complaints, offer no resistance, seemingly knowing that It is quite useless. The glaucous gulls prefer small young, which their advanced young gulp whole. Young in various stages of growth, from newly hatched to those ready to leave the nests, were found abundantly on August 15. No eggs were seen at that time. Both adults were Invariably nearby, screaming protest when the nest was approached and following the intruder for considerable distance when leaving.

On the Arctic coast of Mackenzie, Macfarlane (1908) found some 20 nests of this species on sandy islets in the bays and rivers:

The nest was usually a shallow depression in the beach, while in one of them we discovered an egg of the black brant which was being incubated by a bird of this species.

Nelson (1887) describes two nests found by him on the Yukon delta, as follows:

On June 4 their first nest was found. It was placed on a small islet, a few feet across, in the center of a broad shallow pond. The structure was formed of a mass of moss and grass piled up a foot or more high, with a base 3 feet across and with a deep contral depression lined with dry grass. There was a single egg. The female, as she sat on the nest, was visible a mile away, and not the slightest opportunity was afforded for concealment on the broad surrounding fiat.

On June 15, near St. Michaels, another nest was found, an equally conspicuous structure. Like the majority of their nests found by me, It also was located on a small islet In a pond. It was 2 feet high, with a base from 3 to 4 feet long by 2 wide and measured about 18 Inches across the top. In the apex was a depression about 5 Inches deep and 9 inches In diameter. This bulky structure was made up of tufts of moss and grass rooted up by the birds’ beaks. The ground looked as though It had been rooted up by pigs in places near the nest and on the outer edge of the pond; and while I was examining the nest, which contained three eggs, one of the old birds came flying up from a considerable distance, carrying a large tuft of muddy grass in its beak and dropped it close by on seeing me. One of the eggs taken was white, without a trace of the usual color marks. While I was securing the eggs the parents swooped down close to my head, uttering harsh cries.

On July 7, 1911, I visited Walrus Island, in the Pribilof group in Bering Sea, where among all the hordes of water fowl that breed in this wonderful islet was a nesting colony of glaucous-winged and glaucous gulls. Their nests were scattered among the tufts of short, coarse grass, which covered the highest and central part of the island, where soil had been formed by the accumulation of guano. The nests were rather bulky- and well made of seaweed and soft grasses; a few of them still contained eggs, but nearly all of the young had hatched and were hiding in the grass and among the rocks. We were not allowed to shoot any birds here and the gulls were too shy to enable us to identify any nests, but I am positive that both species were breeding here. The glaucous-winged gull seems to have been overlooked by some of the others who have visited this island, though it may not have been breeding there then.

Eggs: As with most gulls, only one brood is raised in a season and the set usually consists of three eggs, though two eggs frequently complete the set. The eggs are similar to those of other large gulls, varying in shape from ovate to elongate ovate. The shell is rather coarsely granulated and without luster. The ground color shows the usual variations from “buffy brown~’ to “deep olive buff” or “pale olive buff.” The eggs are usually not very thickly and more or less irregularly spotted with small spots or blotches of various shades of the darker browns, such as “bone brown,” “bister,” or “Saccardo’s umber”; also sometimes with lighter browns and often with underlying spots of various shades of the lighter drabs and lavender grays. The measurements of 56 eggs in the United States National Museum average 75.8 by 52.4 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure 85.5 by 50.5, 78 by 57, 70 by 52.5 and 76.5 by 48 millimeters.

Young: Both Turner (1886) and Elliott (1875) give the period of incubation as about three weeks, but probably four weeks would be more nearly correct; Evans (1891) gives it as 28 days. Probably both sexes incubate, for the pairs keep together at this time, and the male usually stands guard near the nest while the female is incubating. The young leave the nest after a few days and become quite lively; they are expert at hiding under whatever shelter they can find, often lying flat in some slight hollow with the eyes tightly closed. Kunilien (1879) says that he “had an opportunity of seeing how these young hopefuls are instructed in egg sucking. The parent carried a duck’s egg to the nest and broke a hole in it, and the young one just helped himself at his leisure. After the young are full-fledged these birds are eminently gregarious, and are often seen feeding in considerable flocks.” The young are voracious feeders and become very fat, when they are much esteemed by the natives for food. Plumages : T he young chick is covered with long, soft, thick down, grayish white above and almost pure white below, tinged with buff on the throat and breast. The back is clouded or blotched with “smoke gray,” and the head and throat are distinctly marked with numerous large and small spots of “fuscous black,” the number and extent of the markings varying in different specimens. Before the young bird is half grown the juvenal plumage begins to appear, about the last of July, showing first on the wings, scapulars, flanks, and back.

Doctor Dwight (1906) has given us a full and accurate account of the molts and plumages of this species. Of the juvenal plumage he says:

August or early September finds birds wholly in the brown barred or mottled plumage, of which the flight feathers and the tail are retained for a full year, the body plumage and some of the lesser wing coverts being partially renewed at two periods of moult, the post juvenal in November or later and the prenuptial beginning often as early as the end of February.

The first winter plumage only partially supplants the juvenal, “chiefly on the back. The overlapping of the post-juvenal and prenuptial moults obscures the question of whether all young birds pass through one or two moults during their first winter, but the evidence is in favor of two. Before the time of the prenuptial arrives birds have faded out a good deal and are often quite white in appearance, with the brown mottling very obscure. The paler of the drab primaries apparently fade to white in some cases.” At the first postnuptial molt in August and early September, when tile bird is 14 or 15 months old, a complete change takes place, producing the lighter but still mottled plumage of the second year. There is, however, great individual variation in the purity of this plumage, some birds still retaining mottled feathers like those of the first year and others acquiring advanced signs of maturity. Doctor Dwight (1906) says further:

In a very few birds brown mottled feathers still predominate, although birds with fairly developed gray mantles, white tails sprinkled with brown, and having pale ecru-drab or white primaries are perhaps tbe most usnal type of plumage. The white heads and bodies are much obscured with smoky gray. An extreme is represented by birds absolutely pure white, the “hutchinsii” type. The dark bill of the young bird is replaced by a bill which is partially yellow. A partial prenuptiai moult occurs in April, producing the second nuptial plumage, In which some birds, except for wings and tail, are now like adults.

The adult winter plumage is acquired by a complete postnuptial molt, in August and September, when the bird is 26 or 27 months old. This plumage is characterized by the pure white head and body plumage, pale pearl-gray mantle and wings of the same shade, fading to white at the tips of the remiges. A few birds still retain traces of immaturity, such as an occasional mottled feather or some signs of dusky clouding on the head, which disappear at the third partial prenuptial molt. In the complete postnuptial molt the remiges are shed in pairs, in regular rotation, beginning with the inner secondary and ending with the outer primary.

Food: The glaucous gull is noted for its ravenous appetite, for it is a voracious feeder and is not at all particular about its diet, which includes almost any kind of animal food whether fresh or carrion. Its fresh food consists of fish or mollusks, which are usually stolen from other sea birds, starfish, sea-urchins, surface-swimming amphipods and crustaceans, and the eggs and young of other sea birds. Yarrell (1871) says that “it feeds also on Cancer pulece and araneus; extracts the soft animals from the shells of Venus islandica, Peeten Islands, and searches closely for the lump-sucking fish, Cyclopterus lumpu&” That it is not content with devouring the. eggs and young of dovekies, murres, and other small sea birds is shown by the much quoted statement by Swainson and Richardson (1831) that “one specimen killed on Captain Ross’s expedition, disgorged an auk when it was struck, and proved by dissection to have another in its stomach.” As a consumer of carrion it is undoubtedly useful; it feeds freely on dead fish or other animal refuse, which it finds along the shore, the entrails of fish, which are thrown overboard, the carcasses of seals and the remains of animals or birds killed by hunters. Murdoch (1885) says:

If a duck be shot so that he fall in the water or any not easily accessible place, an hour is generally time enough for him to be reduced to a skeleton by the gulls.

Nuttall (1834) states that they “are said to attend on the walrus to feed on its excrement”; also that when “pressed by hunger,” they sometimes even condescend to share the crow berry with the ptarmigan. Hagerup (1891) observes that “after the young leave their nests in August they gather on the flat tracts along the shore and feed on the berries of Empetrum nigrum, of which they consume a vast quantity.”:

Behavior: The flight of this gull is not especially different from that of other large gulls, though it is particularly strong and at times quite swift, as when chasing the smaller sea birds to rob them of their food. The white-tipped wings serve to distinguish it from all other gulls except the Iceland gull, from which it differs only in size – a very unsatisfactory field mark. Even in young birds the primaries are much whiter than in other species, so that on the Pacific coast the glaucous gull can usually be recognized at short range.

Its voice is usually loud and harsh, often shrill and penetrating, but on its breeding grounds I have heard it utter a variety of soft conversational notes after the first excitement was over. Nelson (1887) gives us a good description of its notes as follows:

They have a series of hoarse cries like the syllables ku-ku-ku, ku-lee-oo, ku-iee-oo, ku-lee-oo, ku-ku-ku, ku-ku-ku. The syllables ku-ku are uttered in a hoarse nasal tone; the rest, in a shrill, screaming cry, reaching the ear at a great distance. These notes are used when quarreling or communicating with each other, and when disturbed on their breeding ground. At Unalaska, during May, 1877, I found them about the cliffs on the outer face of the island, and they protested vigorously against our presence as they glided back and forth overhead or perched on craggy shelves.

Elliott (1880) says:

It has a loud, shrill, eaglelike scream, becoming more monotonous by its repetition; and it also utters a low, chattering croak while coasting.

Turner (1886) observes:

The note of this bird is variable; in spring a harsh Kaou, which changes to a deep honk, in a few weeks. When flying along the shore a prolonged, grunting croak is uttered.

Chamberlain (1891) gives it as “something like the syllables KukZak; I have seen it written cut-leek.”:

I quote from Mr. Hersey’s notes his observations on the behavior of this species near St. Michael:

The glaucous gull is a bird of marked individuality. Though often solitary, when a number do assemble together they are usually rather noisy. A large flock has kept close to the ship for several days while we have been anchored in the bay and this gave me a good opportunity to study them. Often while all were resting quietly on the water one would extend his neck, open his mouth to its widest extent, and swim rapidly along, voicing his wild harsh notes. Sometimes he would swim in circles while calling, or two birds would swim side by side, either in a straight course or circling. At other times they would face one another on the water, or when on the wing one would rise above the other, the lower bird stretching his neck up and the other reaching downward, and both with dangling legs and motionless wings cry lustily. At one time while two birds were struggling with a piece of food two others sat on the water near by and added their cries to the general commotion. Both adult and immature birds do this.

They are strong swift fliers, and probably pugnacious toward smaller or weaker species, but I did not see them molest any other birds, although I often noticed that the Sabine’s and short-billed gulls, Pacific kittiwakes and jaegers kept at a respectful distance and never attempted to pick up food from the water If these gulls were near but left It for them. When no food was In sight all the above species rested on the water together In one flock. When food was thrown out the glaucous gull was slower in taking wing than the others and often lost his share on this account:

The glaucous gull is decidedly predatory in its habits. Nuttall (1834) says: They wrest prey from weaker birds, and are often seen hovering In the air or seated on some lofty pinnacle of Ice, whence, having fixed their eye upon some favorite morsel, they dart down on the possessor, which, whether fulmar, guillemot, or kittiwake, must instantly resign the prize. The auk, as well as the young penguin, they not only rob but often wholly devour.

Kumlien (1879) gives the following account of how it robs the eiders:

June 4, I saw a few L. glaucus among a large flock of Som. mollissima that were diving for food outside the harbor in a small lead in the ice. As soon as the duck came to the surface the gull attacked it till it disgorged something, which was immediately gobbled up by the gull. The gull picked several times at what was disgorged, which leads me to the belief that the food was small crustaceans. This piratical mode of living is very characteristic of Larus glaucus.

A similar performance has been noted by Hagerup (1891) in Greenland.

The Eskimos find the breasts of this and other gulls desirable as food, the young birds being considered a delicacy, and the eggs are very good to eat when fresh. Many an Arctic explorer also has found these birds a welcome addition to the food supply. Kumlien (1879) thus describes the primitive methods of the Eskimos in capturing these birds:

One of the most popular is to build a small snow hut on the ice in a locality frequented by the gulls. Some blubber or scraps of meat are exposed to view on the top and seldom falls to Induce the bird to alight on the roof of the structure. This is so thin that the Eskimo on the Inside can readily see the bird through the snow and, with a quick grab, will break through the snow and catch the bird by the legs. Some use a spear, thrusting it violently through the roof of the hut. Many are killed by exposing pieces of blubber among the hummocky Ice and lying concealed within proper distance for bow and arrow practice.

Murdock (1885) tells us of another method practiced at Point Barrow:

They are a favorite bird with the natives, and many are shot In the autumn as they fly up and down the shore. They are also occasionally caught with a baited line in the autumn when there is a light snow on the beach. A little stick of hardwood, about 4 inches long and sharpened at both ends, has attached to us middle a strong line of deer sinew. The slick is carefully wrapped In blubber or meat and exposed on the bench, while the short line Is securely fastened to a stake driven Into the sand and carefully concealed In the snow. The gull picks up the tempting morsel and swallows it and, of course, is caught by the stick, which turns sidewise across hIs gullet, and his struggles to escape fix it more firmly.

Winter: Although some individuals, principally young birds, re main as far north as Greenland in winter, the great majority of these gulls migrate southward when the sea ice freezes, and their feeding grounds are covered with ice and snow, but winter must be well upon us before we need look for them on the New England coast. They are always rare here and find the southern limit of their normal winter range about Long Island. When on our coasts they may be seen among the flocks of herring gulls which frequent our harbors and beaches, acting as scavengers, intent only on finding a good food supply. Mcllwraith (1894) says:

During the winter months the “burgomaster,” as this species is usually named, may be seen roaming around the shores of Lake Ontario, seeking what it may devour, and it is not very scrupulous either as regards quantity or quality.

On the Pacific coast it winters as far south as Monterey, associating with the common winter gulls of that region.

Many years ago Mr. Ridgway (1886) described the glaucous gulls of the coasts of Alaska and adjacent waters as a new species under the name Larus barrovianus, the size and the shape of the bill being the chief distinguishing character. Twenty years later Doctor Dwight (1906) argued that this species was untenable, and it was removed from the check list. Recently, however, Dr. H. C. Oberholser (1918) has resurrected bar’rovianus, as a subspecies of hyperboreus, on the claim that the Alaska bird is smaller and has a darker mantle than the birds from Greenland or from Europe. Whether this claim is well founded or not, it is apparently a fact that the characters he ascribes to the Alaska bird hold true in a large majority of the specimens, though there are some exceptionr to the rule. Doctor Dwight, however, still maintains that the proposed race is unworthy of recognition in nomenclature.

Breeding range: Circumpolar, including practically all the Arctic coasts and islands of both hemispheres. In North America south to eastern Labrador (Cape Harrison), Newfoundland (west coast and in the interior), James Bay (east side), northern Hudson Bay (Cape Fullerton), Arctic coast of Canada and Alaska, Bering Sea coast of Alaska (south to the Kuskoquim River) and Pribilof Islands (Walrus Island). North on all the Arctic islands and northern Greenland to at least latitude 82~ 34′ North. In the eastern hemisphere from Spitzbergen and Nova Zembla eastward to northeastern Siberia and Wrangel Island. South to Iceland, Arctic coasts of Europe and Asia and to Kamchatka.

Breeding grounds protected in the following national reservations in Alaska: Bering Sea, St. Matthew Island; Pribilofa, Walrus Island.

Winter Range: In North America south along the coast fairly regularly to Massachusetts and Long Island and casually farther south. In the interior rarely to the Great Lakes (Lakes Ontario and Michigan). And on the Pacific coasts south to central California (Monterey) and Japan, rarely to the Hawaiian Islands. In Europe south to the Azores and the Mediterranean, Black, and Caspian Seas. North to limits of open water.

Spring migration: Early dates of arrival: Southern Greenland, March 20; northeastern Greenland, latitude 800 20′ North, June 9; Baffin Land, Kingwah Fiord, April 20; Fort Conger, May 14; King Oscar Land, May 27; Prince Albert Land, May 31; Winter Harbor, June 3; Wellington Channel, May 16; Alaska, Yukon Delta, May 13; Kowak River, May 11; Point Barrow, May 11; and Demarcation Point, May 14. Late dates of departure: Long Island, Rockaway, May 1; Massachusetts, Rockport, April 24; Maine, Portland, April 27; Quebec, Godbout, April 29; California, Monterey, May 4; Washington, Tacoma, May 2.

Fall migration: Early dates of arrival: Massachusetts, Cambridge, November 29; Long Island, Orient, November 30; California, Monterey, November 6. Late dates of departure: Ellesmere Land, Cape Union, September 1; Greenland, Thank God Harbor, September 3, and Bowdoin Bay, October 17; Mackenzie River, October 9; Alaska, Point Barrow, November 1; Kotzebue Sound, October 13; Unalaska, November 12; Diomede Islands, December 7; Pribilof Islands, December 13.

Casual records: Wanders in winter along Atlantic coast to North Carolina (Cape Lookout, Carteret County, March 30 or 31, 1895), and to Bermuda (April 28, 1901). Accidental at many places in the interior, westward to Wisconsin (Milwaukee, January 8, 12, and 14, 1895), and southward to Texas (Clay County, December 17, 1880).

Egg dates: Canadian Arctic coast: Twenty records, June 10 to July 8; ten records, June 25 to July 5. Northern Alaska: Eleven records, May 26 to June 28; six records, May 30 to June 12. Greenland: Nine records, May 26 to July 2; five records, June 7 to 14. Iceland: Ten records, May 12 to June 21; five records, June 1 to 10. Newfoundland: Three records, June 3, 5, and 8.

About the Author

Sam Crowe

Sam is the founder of He has been birding for over 30 years and has a world list of over 2000 species. He has served as treasurer of the Texas Ornithological Society, Sanctuary Chair of Dallas Audubon, Editor of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" web site and as a contributing editor for Birding Business magazine. Many of his photographs and videos can be found on the site.

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