Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
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Sabine's Gull

Sabine's Gull
Xema sabini
Gull-like Birds | Family: Gulls and Terns, Laridae

An estimated 3% of the species' North American breeding range lies within the Boreal Forest.

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Overview

This delicate gull is seldom seen outside the breeding season as it is almost exclusively oceanic. On the tundra coastline it gracefully plucks small crustaceans and insects from the surface of the water like a tern. It also takes eggs from nesting colonies of Arctic Terns. The best way to see this oceanic species is to take a boat trip out of Monterey, California, or some other Pacific Coast city.

Description

13-14" (33-36 cm). A small, fork-tailed gull, with black primaries and triangular white patch on rear edge of wing. Hood dark in breeding plumage. Bill black with yellow tip. Immature lacks dark hood but can be distinguished by forked tail and striking wing pattern.

Voice

High-pitched grating or squeaking notes.

Nesting

3 or 4 olive-brown eggs, spotted with darker brown, placed in a grass-lined depression on the ground. Nests in small colonies.

Habitat

Tundra ponds in summer; open ocean on migration and in winter.

Range/Migration

Breeds on coastal tundra around shores of Arctic Ocean, farther inland in Alaska. Migrates mainly at sea. Winter range not fully known; some birds winter off Pacific coast of northern South America.