Alaska Science Center

Glaucous Gull, Larus hyperboreus

High-Priority Species List

Glaucous Gulls are a high priority species because those in western Alaska migrate to Australasia, winter along the coast and feed in land fills and scavenge dead birds.
The Glaucous Gull is often predatory feeding on birds, small mammals, fish and invertebrates (Gilchrist 2001, Bowman et al. 2004). It will also eat garbage and forage on carcasses. This species is circumpolar in distribution. In Alaska it breeds coastally from the central Bering Sea to the Beaufort Sea. In Russia Far East they breed in similar latitudes (Harrison 1983, Armstrong 1995, ASIS 2006). Satellite telemetry has shown that birds breeding in Barrow spend much of their winter in coastal Russia as far south as the Kamchatka Peninsula (Troy Ecological Research Associates 2004). About 100,000 birds nest in colonies and singly in Alaska (Gilchrist 2001, Bowman et al. 2004, USFWS 2006). If other birds nesting along the Beaufort coast, southern Chukchi, and northern Bering seas move southwest in winter like the birds from Barrow, then 30-50% of the population likely winters in Asia.
No. of samples: Total 200 to 300 from Alaska.
Sampling locations: The primary location is northwest Alaska. Samples will be taken from Barrow, St. Lawrence, and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.
Sampling timeframe: During the breeding season in June to August.
Sample demographics: Adults will be sampled during summer.
Methods of capture: The sample goal of 200-300 can most easily be achieved through fecal sampling and/or live-trapping of birds at colonies or on-shore roost sites. Smaller numbers of samples could be obtained from lethal capture (~20-40 birds) if necessary.
Other targeted species: At the proposed primary sampling sites it will be possible to sample small to moderate numbers of Aleutian Terns and Common Eiders.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Migratory Bird Management - Seabird Project
Contact: David Irons

Alaska Maritime NWR
Contact: Jeff Williams

Yukon Delta NWR
Contact: Fred Broerman
Armstrong, R.H. 1995. Guide to the Birds of Alaska. Alaska Northwest Books, 4th Ed., Anchorage, Alaska.

ASIS. 2006. Alaska seabird information Series, Glaucous-winged Gull. 2006. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Migratory Bird Mgmt Rep., U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, Alaska.

Bowman, T. D., R. A. Stehn, and K. T. Scribner. 2004. Glaucous Gull Predation of Goslings on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska. Condor 106: 288-298.

Gilchrist, H. G. 2001. Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus). In The Birds of North America, No. 573 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Harrison, P. 1983. Seabirds, an identification guide. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.

Troy Ecological Research Associates. 2004. Movements of Glaucous Gull Trapped at the Barrow Landfill. Results from a 2003 Pilot Study. Troy Ecological Research Associates, Anchorage, Alaska.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2006. Beringian Seabird Colony Catalog -- computer database and Colony Status Record archives. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Migratory Bird Management, Anchorage, Alaska.

Distribution map of Glaucous Gull

Ranking Score: 11.5

Asian H5N1 ranking criteria for Glaucous Gull, Larus hyperboreus.

Total of partial
contact with Asia1
Contact with
known "hot spot"2
Habitat used in
Pop. in Alaska4
Can samples be
Estimate 20% winters in Asia
No known use of AI-infected areas
Estuaries and adjacent terrestrial areas; garbage disposal sites
Approximately 100,000
Easily obtainable at garbage disposal sites; locations of breeding colonies known
Image of Glaucous Gull, photo by T. Bowman