Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Glaucous Gull - Larus hyperboreus
LARIDAE Members:
Search Common:                 Search Scientific:
General Comments The very large Glaucous Gull is quite similar to the Iceland Gull in plumage patterns and general range in the Eastern states (including North Carolina). Each is a rare winter visitor to our coast, and both species are usually found somewhere along the coast in a given winter. The history of the Glaucous Gull in the state was never controversial, as documentation of records was made many decades ago. This species is slightly more likely to stray inland than is the Iceland Gull. Glaucous Gulls, as with other rare gulls, tend to be most often seen resting on sand flats at Cape Hatteras Point, or at other inlets, but also can be seen around fish houses, landfills, and behind boats offshore. Like other such scarce gulls, most are seen amid large flocks of Herring Gulls, though some are seen with Great Black-backed Gulls.
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank SZ
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain Winter visitor, mainly coastal. Rare to locally and occasionally uncommon (mainly at Cape Hatteras Point), along the northern and central portions of the coast; very rare to rare along the southern coast. More "frequent" during periods of extreme cold. Very rare to rare in the Tidewater zone. Surprisingly, accidental farther inland, with the only record being of an immature at Goldsboro, 7-8 Jan 2005. Mostly mid-Dec to early Apr, but many records to early May. Scattered records in most other months, though no Jul records. One immature lingered along the northern coast of Dare (several sites) from 2-18 Jun 2020. Peak counts: 4, Cape Hatteras Point, 16 Feb 1977; 4, Hatteras Inlet, 29 Dec 1983.
Piedmont Winter visitor. Casual to now very rare (about 12 records) in the Triangle area and around Greensboro, but just one record westward -- at Lake Norman from 16-18 Dec 2018. Records between 14 Dec to 18 Feb, and also one extremely late at Jordan Lake, 7-10 May 1989. Peak count: 2, Falls Lake, 6 Feb 1994.
Mountains No records.
Finding Tips Finding tips are similar to that for Iceland Gull. The gull concentrations at Cape Hatteras Point usually host one or two Glaucous Gulls sometime during the winter, but it is usually missed on most winter visits to that site.
* to **
Attribution LeGrand[2023-03-14], LeGrand[2020-10-20], LeGrand[2019-06-26]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all known species.