BIRDS OF ICELAND : Larus glaucoides, Iceland Gull

Larus glaucoides; the Iceland Gull can be found all around the coasts of Iceland. The English name is rather confusing: it suggests it is a very "indigenous" bird. However, this bird is mainly a winter-visitor. Their breeding-grounds are more north in sub-arctic regions of Greenland and Canada. It is a smaller version of the Glaucous Gull (L. hyperboreus). The photo's presented here are of 1-year old juveniles. The juveniles have a black band on their beak. The adults have a yellow beak (with red spot on the lower mandible), a red-lined margin around their eyes and a less-marbled cloak than the juveniles. Characteristic for both the Iceland and Glaucous Gull is that they are full white birds without any black spots on their wing-tips. Differentiating characteristics are few. Some writers point at the length of the wings and the shape of their heads. I found these traits ( Icelandic Gulls supposedly have shorter wings and rounded heads) unusable. Especially in the case of the wing-length I found the opposite! I also saw that the shape of their heads is irrelevant. One trait though (apart from their sizes) is quite different: the relative length of the beaks compared to the size of the heads is very different: In the Icelandic Gulls the length of the beak is conspicuously smaller (relative to the size of the head) than the length of the beak of the Glaucous Gull) This is clearly visible on the photo of both species together.

A brief introduction to Iceland birds
Text & Photographs by Dick Vuijk
- unless stated otherwise
Other Gulls and Gull-related species

Other Gulls and Gull-related species

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Natural History of Iceland Site  in Dutch

Natural History of Iceland Site  Dutch