Little Gull
(Hydrocoloeus minutus)


Picture of bird
© Martin Vavřík - License
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Little Gull is a rare resident in North America, with most breeding records coming from the Great Lakes and the Hudson Bay lowlands, and non-breeding records extending from the Great lakes to the Gulf of Mexico (Ewins and Weseloh 1999). Breeding records indicate that Little Gulls bred in southern Ontario from 1962 to 1989 but are not known to have done so since (Weseloh 2007). The disappearance of breeders from southern Ontario suggests a decrease in the Canadian population since 1970, but given the species’ remote and scattered breeding locations, and lack of trend information relative to the 1970s, the status of the national population is considered to be data deficient. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Unrankable2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaData DeficientData DeficientData Deficient

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada< 100 breeding birds

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaVery Low

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between mid-May and early June and ends in mid-July, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.

Conservation and management

When the species was breeding at Oshawa Second Marsh, in Ontario, the breeding sites were protected. Subsequent breeding sites around Hudson Bay have not been within protected areas. Little is known of the species’ ecology in North America outside the breeding season. It seems likely that the same causes of mortality affecting other small gulls would affect Little Gulls (e.g., mammalian predators, falcons, pollution and botulism poisoning; Pollet et al. 2012).


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence PlainLower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, sub-region and priority type: Ontario -- Conservation
Taiga Shield and Hudson PlainsTaiga Shield and Hudson Plains, sub-region and priority type: Ontario -- Conservation
Taiga Shield and Hudson PlainsTaiga Shield and Hudson Plains, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Conservation