Glaucous Gull

Larus hyperboreus (Gunnerus, 1767) GZ GLAGU 5990
Family: Charadriiformes > Laridae

Glaucous Gull, Scott Mayson

The largely white adult and biscuit-coloured immature Glaucous Gulls are winter visitors to the coasts of Britain & Ireland.

The species breeds around the coasts of the high arctic archipelagos of Svalbard, Franz Josef Land, Iceland and Greenland. Many individuals remain close to their breeding grounds throughout the year and even when conditions are tough, may only move as far as the edge of the arctic ice. During prolonged periods of poor weather further north and west, Glaucous Gulls can arrive in Britain & Ireland in force. It is hardly surprising that the majority of records come from the north, with some northern harbours hosting small flocks of Glaucous Gulls in some years.

BTO Online Ringing report recoveries come from Iceland, Svalbard, Norway and Bear Island.

Select a topic for more facts and statistics about the Glaucous Gull

  • Breeding
  • Winter


Glaucous Gull identification is often straightforward. The following article may help when identifying Glaucous Gull.

related video

Identifying Iceland Gull and Glaucous Gull

 The latest identification video tackles the difficult pair of gulls, Iceland and Glaucous. March is one of the best months of the year to catch up with wandering gulls as they make their way back to their summer haunts.


Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Glaucous Gull, provided by xeno-canto contributors.


Develop your bird ID skills with our training courses

Our interactive online courses are a great way to develop your bird identification skills, whether you're new to the hobby or a competent birder looking to hone your abilities.

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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.



Glaucous Gulls are regular winter visitors to Britain & Ireland, with a wide scatter of records around the coast of Britain, though they are scarcer on the west coast of England and Wales. They are widely recorded across the Northern Isles and the Outer Hebrides. In Ireland they are found mainly around the coast, especially in the west, with few records inland.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2



Glaucous Gulls are usually winter visitors, most often recorded in late winter.

Weekly occurence of Glaucous Gull from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.

Foreign locations of birds ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland

Foreign locations of Glaucous Gull ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland
Encountered in: Winter (Nov-Feb); Spring (Mar-Apr); Summer (May-Jul); Autumn (Aug-Oct)


Lifecycle and body size information about Glaucous Gull, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.



View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report


Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Gaelic: Muir-mhaighstir
Welsh: Gwylan y Gogledd
Catalan: gavinot hiperbori
Czech: racek šedý
Danish: Gråmåge
Dutch: Grote Burgemeester
Estonian: jääkajakas
Finnish: isolokki
French: Goéland bourgmestre
German: Eismöwe
Hungarian: jeges sirály
Icelandic: Hvítmáfur
Irish: Faoileán Glas
Italian: Gabbiano glauco
Latvian: liela polarkaija
Lithuanian: didysis poliarinis kiras
Norwegian: Polarmåke
Polish: mewa blada
Portuguese: gaivotão-branco
Slovak: cajka bledá
Slovenian: ledni galeb
Spanish: Gavión hiperbóreo
Swedish: vittrut

Links to more information from

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