Glaucous Gull
(Larus hyperboreus)


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

Glaucous Gulls breed across the circumpolar Arctic, and in Canada, are found from northern Labrador to the High Arctic. Surveys in the Eastern and High Arctic indicate decreases in abundance, although these surveys have been intermittent and capture only a fraction of the population. Results from the Christmas Bird Count also suggest that the wintering population is decreasing, though part of this pattern may be due to redistribution. Overall, the Canadian population has likely decreased moderately in abundance since about 1970, though the reliability of this assessment is considered to be low.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Apparently secure2015 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaModerate DecreaseLowData Deficient

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada50,000 - 100,000 breeding birds

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population

General nesting period in Canada

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

Conservation and management

Glaucous Gulls in Canada and across the circumpolar Arctic have been found to carry high levels of contaminants, such as persistent organic compounds and heavy metals (Weiser and Gilchrist 2012). Other threats facing the species include egg harvest, food shortages, and possible threats occurring throughout the non-breeding range (Petersen et al. 2015). Increased egg and chick predation and/or nest desertion due to disturbance is a growing concern, as reduced sea ice is forcing polar bears to search for alternate prey on land making ground-nesting seabirds easy targets (Kuletz et al. 2017 and references therein). Glaucous Gulls frequently forage at garbage dumps around Arctic communities and outside the Arctic during winter. This has contributed to an observed increase in abundance in Alaska (Noel at al. 2006). The Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna program has chosen the Glaucous Gull as one of a small group of seabird species to be monitored by all circumpolar countries (with a focus on population trends, annual reproduction, and contaminants; Weiser and Gilchrist 2012), though trend information from Canada remains unavailable (Kuletz et al. 2017).


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