Photo: Blake Matheson/Flickr Creative Commons

Thayer's Gull

Larus thayeri

Wintering commonly along parts of the Pacific Coast, this bird was largely overlooked for years because of its resemblance to Herring Gull (it was once considered a race of that species). Thayer's is a gull of the Canadian high Arctic in summer. It is closely related to the Iceland Gull, and the two are sometimes very difficult to tell apart; they may be only forms of the same species.
Conservation status Nesting range is mostly remote from impacts of human activities. No obvious trends in population.
Family Gulls and Terns
Habitat Coastal waters, bays. Winters mostly in coastal regions, especially around estuaries and protected bays, also well offshore at times. May regularly visit freshwater ponds and garbage dumps in coastal plain. Rare in winter farther inland around lakes, rivers. Nests on rocky coasts of northern islands.
Wintering commonly along parts of the Pacific Coast, this bird was largely overlooked for years because of its resemblance to Herring Gull (it was once considered a race of that species). Thayer's is a gull of the Canadian high Arctic in summer. It is closely related to the Iceland Gull, and the two are sometimes very difficult to tell apart; they may be only forms of the same species.
Photo Gallery
  • adult, nonbreeding
  • immature (1st year)
  • immature (2nd year)
  • adult
  • adult
Feeding Behavior

Forages in flight by dipping to surface of water or by plunging to just below surface; also feeds while swimming or walking.


Eggs

2, sometimes 3. Buff to olive or gray, with darker brown blotches. Incubation is probably by both sexes; incubation period not known. Young: Both parents probably feed young. Age of young at fledging and at independence not known.


Young

Both parents probably feed young. Age of young at fledging and at independence not known.

Diet

Omnivorous. Diet includes many small fish, also carrion, mollusks, crustaceans, berries. Around colonies of smaller seabirds, may take eggs or young. Also may feed on refuse around garbage dumps, docks, fishing boats.


Nesting

Breeding behavior not well known. Probably does not breed until 4 years old. Nests in colonies, sometimes with other species of gulls. Nest site is on ledge of rocky cliff close to ocean, usually facing fjord or sound on arctic island. Nest (probably built by both sexes) is a low mound of plant material with a depression at the center.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Most birds from central Canadian Arctic move southwest to Pacific Coast. Rare farther east in winter. Young birds tend to move farther south than adults; most found in southern California and northwestern Mexico are first-winter immatures.

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Migration

Most birds from central Canadian Arctic move southwest to Pacific Coast. Rare farther east in winter. Young birds tend to move farther south than adults; most found in southern California and northwestern Mexico are first-winter immatures.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Mewing and squealing notes.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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How climate change could affect this bird's range

In the broadest and most detailed study of its kind, Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change.

Learn more

Read more: climate.audubon.org
Gulls and Terns Gull-like Birds

Thayer's Gull

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season.

More on reading these maps.

Each map is a visual guide to where a particular bird species may find the climate conditions it needs to survive in the future. We call this the bird’s “climatic range.”

The colors indicate the season in which the bird may find suitable conditions— blue for winter, yellow for summer (breeding), and green for where they overlap (indicating their presence year-round).

The darker the shaded area, the more likely it is the bird species will find suitable climate conditions to survive there.

The outline of the approximate current range for each season remains fixed in each frame, allowing you to compare how the range will expand, contract, or shift in the future.

The first frame of the animation shows where the bird can find a suitable climate today (based on data from 2000). The next three frames predict where this bird’s suitable climate may shift in the future—one frame each for 2020, 2050, and 2080.

You can play or pause the animation with the orange button in the lower left, or select an individual frame to study by clicking on its year.

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season. More on reading these maps.
Winter
Summer

Winter Range
Summer Range
Both Seasons
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