|Adult, Ithaca, NY|
L. g. glaucoides Meyer, 1822
The Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides) is a large gull which breeds in the Arctic regions of Canada and Greenland, but not Iceland, where it is only seen in the winter. It is migratory, wintering from in the North Atlantic as far south as the British Isles and northernmost states of the eastern USA, as well as in the interior of North America as far west as the western Great Lakes. It is much scarcer in Europe than the similar Glaucous Gull.
This species breeds colonially or singly on coasts and cliffs, making a nest lined with grass, moss, or seaweed on the ground or cliff. Normally, 2–3 light brown eggs are laid.
The nominate subspecies, glaucoides, is very pale in all plumages, with absolutely no melanin in the tips of the primaries in adult plumage. Adults are pale grey above, with a yellowish-green bill. Immatures are very pale grey; the bill is more extensively dark than with Glaucous Gull, and lacks pink.
The Iceland Gull is a largish gull, although relatively slender and light-weight. In length, it can measure from 50 to 64 cm (20 to 25 in), wingspan is from 115 to 150 cm (45 to 59 in) and weight is from 480 to 1,100 g (1.06 to 2.4 lb). Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 37.9 to 44.3 cm (14.9 to 17.4 in), the bill is 3.6 to 5.4 cm (1.42 to 2.13 in) and the tarsus is 4.9 to 6.7 cm (1.93 to 2.64 in). It is smaller and thinner billed than the very large Glaucous Gull, and is usually smaller than the Herring Gull. It takes four years to reach maturity. The call is a "laughing" cry like Herring Gull, but higher pitched. For a description of the subspecies L. g. kumlieni see Kumlien's Gull.
These are omnivores like most Larus gulls, eating fish, molluscs, offal, scraps, and eggs. These birds forage while flying, picking up food at or just below the water's surface, also feeds while walking or swimming. Their scavenging habits lead them to frequent garbage dumps, sewage outlets, and places where fish are cleaned.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Larus glaucoides". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Gulls: Of North America, Europe, and Asia by Klaus Malling Olsen & Hans Larsson. Princeton University Press (2004). ISBN 978-0691119977.
- Harrison, Peter, Seabirds: An Identification Guide. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (1991), ISBN 978-0-395-60291-1
- CRC Handbook of Avian Body Masses by John B. Dunning Jr. (Editor). CRC Press (1992), ISBN 978-0-8493-4258-5.
- Seabirds by Harrison, ISBN 0-7470-1410-8
- Bull, John; Farrand, Jr., John (April 1984). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds, Eastern Region. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-394-41405-5.
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