Ross's Gull
(Rhodostethia rosea)


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

The Ross’s Gull breeds primarily in eastern Siberia, but several pairs breed at known sites in Arctic Canada. Because of its rarity, its remote breeding range, and its tendency to skip breeding in sub-optimal years and change its breeding locations, monitoring information is poor. The best available information from periodic surveys suggests relatively little change in the size of the Canadian breeding population since about 1970, though some previously occupied breeding sites are no longer in use, and the only known nesting sites over the past decade have been in a small area of Nunavut. Ross’s Gull was designated as Special Concern in 1981 by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Its status was then re-assessed as Threatened in 2001, which was re-confirmed in 2007 (COSEWIC 2007g). Enhanced monitoring information is perhaps the most critical management need for this poorly studied species. 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
COSEWIC (Canada)Threatened2007 
SARA (Canada)Threatened2003 
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Partners in Flight (North America)Watch list - yellow R2017 
Wild Species (Canada)Imperiled2015 
State of North America’s BirdsWatch list2016 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLittle ChangeLowBelow Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada100 - 500 breeding birds

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaVery Low

Conservation and management

The Ross’s Gull’s small population size places it at risk. Predation of chicks by Arctic Terns has been identified as a significant contribution to reproductive failure (Maftei 2014). Defining and protecting critical habitat, identifying other currently unknown breeding locations, and developing and implementing a rigorous monitoring program are considered priorities for the management of this Species at Risk (Environment Canada 2007a). Gaining a better understanding of the non-breeding distribution for Ross’s Gull is also a priority in order to develop conservation plans, though work is underway to clarify the species’ wintering range (e.g., see Maftei et al. 2014, and Maftei et al. 2015a). For information on the legal status of this species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and to view the Recovery Strategy, see the SARA Registry.


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
Arctic Plains and MountainsArctic Plains and Mountains, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Other
Taiga Shield and Hudson PlainsTaiga Shield and Hudson Plains, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Conservation