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Friday, January 19, 2018

Friday's Foto

Despite their common name, the Iceland Gull can actually be seen outside of Iceland. While they can be found there in winter their breeding range is southern Baffin Island, southern Greenland, northwestern Quebec, and on islands in northern Hudson Bay. This species overwinters in the North Atlantic from the British Isles, the eastern United State's northernmost states and the interior of North America as far west as the western Great Lakes. The similar, but much larger Glaucous Gull is more common in Europe. The Iceland Gull nests on rocky cliffs in the High arctic.

About the size of the ubiquitous Herring Gull, this medium-sized, pale gull consists of three subspecies, which includes the recently merged "Thayer's" Gull. The “Iceland” form breeds in Greenland and winters mainly in the North Atlantic. The adult has very pale to completely white wingtips. The “Kumlien’s” is the form most commonly seen in winter on the East Coast of North America. Wingtip color varies from nearly white to gray. The “Thayer’s” winters on the West Coast of North America and usually has slightly darker wings, dark gray to black wingtips, and heavy streaking or smudging on the head and neck in winter. There’s lots of overlap between each of these forms, and some individuals can’t be easily placed into a subspecies based on plumage. It takes four years to attain their adult plumage.

Like most gulls their diet consists of primarily fish. In addition, they feed on carrion, crustaceans, mollusks, berries and seeds.

Their conservation status according to the IUCN Red List is “Least Concern”.

The scientific name, Larus glaucoides, means Gr. laros gull; blue-gray or resembling Glaucous Gull. Watch a video on how to separate Iceland and Glaucous Gulls here.

In Brooklyn during the winter, look for this species along the coast at Bush Terminal Park, Pier 4 at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, Veterans Memorial Pier, Gravesend Bay, Coney Island and Floyd Bennett Field.

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