Mew Gull
(Larus canus)


Picture of bird
© Jukka Jantunen (
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Mew Gull has a circumpolar distribution, but in North America it breeds from southern British Columbia to the sub-arctic habitats of Alaska, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. It is abundant along the Pacific coast in winter, where it is surveyed by the Christmas Bird Count, which suggests that the Canadian population has shown a large decrease in abundance since about 1970. The Breeding Bird Survey, despite lack of coverage in much of the species' breeding range, also shows large decreases over the same time period. The Mew Gull's global population remains large; it currently faces few known threats in Canada. 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)Secure2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLarge DecreaseMediumBelow Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
CanadaNot yet available

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaTo be determined

General nesting period in Canada

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

Conservation and management

Mew Gulls are attracted to mown-grass airfields and are commonly struck by aircraft in some areas (e.g., Denlinger 2006, Rochard and Horton 1980). Their use of river estuaries for feeding exposes them to a variety of agricultural and industrial pollutants, and some negative effects have been documented (Moskoff and Bevier 2002).


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
Northwestern Interior ForestNorthwestern Interior Forest, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Stewardship