Volume 48, No. 1

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First insights into Thayer's Gull Larus glaucoides thayeri migratory and overwinter patterns along the Northeast Pacific coast


1Department of Biology, Acadia University, 33 Westwood Avenue, Wolfville, Nova Scotia B4P 2R6, Canada *(
2Environment and Climate Change Canada, Wildlife Research Division, RR#1 Robertson Road, Delta, British Columbia V4K 3N2, Canada
3High Arctic Gull Research Group, Bamfield, British Columbia V0R 1B0, Canada
4Department of Statistics, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z4, Canada
5Biological Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2N2, Canada


GUTOWSKY, S.E., HIPFNER, J.M., MAFTEI, M., BOYD, S., AUGER-MÉTHÉ, M., YURKOWSKI, D.J. & MALLORY, M.L. 2020. First insights into Thayer's Gull Larus glaucoides thayeri migratory and overwinter patterns along the Northeast Pacific coast. Marine Ornithology 48: 9 - 16

Received 01 July 2019, accepted 11 October 2019

Date Published: 2020/04/15
Date Online: 2019/12/04
Key words: Iceland Gull, Thayer's Gull, Larus, migration, biologging, arctic, overwinter


Investigating the seasonal movements of migratory seabirds is essential to our understanding of their basic life history and conservation needs. Using satellite telemetry, we studied the migration and non-breeding distribution of Thayer's Gulls Larus glaucoides thayeri, a little known North American gull. Four adult birds that were tracked from a colony in the Canadian high Arctic migrated south overland, crossing multiple mountain ranges to arrive at the coast between southeast Alaska and northwest British Columbia. The subsequent wintering distribution differed greatly among individuals which occupied ranges as far north as Yakutat Bay, Alaska (59.7N) and as far south as Monterey Bay, California (36.7N). Gulls spent 62-82% of the overwinter period in waters overlying the inner continental shelf (mean sea surface temperature 8.4-11.7C; mean distance to coast 2.6-8.8 km, mean depth 19-102 m), in areas of generally low human activity. Their remaining time was spent primarily onshore in coastal (15-20%) or inland areas (4-23%) composed of natural vegetated habitat with low human population density. Little time was spent in agricultural (0-5%) or urban (0-1.5%) environments. Our tracking study provides new insights into the basic natural history of this species. This knowledge should help in the development of conservation strategies for the management of Thayer's Gull populations.


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