Yukon Gullery

The Yukon Gullery promotes awareness and appreciation of gulls through images. We hope you agree that good photos are worth the wait. The Yukon Gullery presents Yukon photos of 15 of 17 documented Yukon gull species.

Plumage jargon; "alternate" means breeding plumage, and "basic" means winter plumage. If you have comments or questions about these gulls then email Email: yukonbirdclub AT gmail.com

This page is for gull enthusiasts worldwide! Please respect the fact that all of these photos are under copyright. We encourage other web sites to provide links to the Yukon Gullery but prefer that links not be directed straight to our image files.

Send us your thoughts on this September 2000 juvenile mystery gull:

1) standing
2) standing
3) spread tail
4) spread wing

Now ... onto the gulls!

Franklin's Gull
There is one photo-documented Yukon record of Franklin's Gull - A pair of breeding plumage adults photographed at Southern Toobally Lakes (southeast Yukon) on 13 June 1996.

1) Adult pair swimming (alternate plumage)
2) Adult flying (alternate plumage)

Bonaparte's Gull
The Yukon's only regular small gull, Bonaparte's Gull is a common breeder throughout the Territory. During early-May optimistic gull watchers should scan the flocks of Bonaparte's Gulls for the dark underwings of the rare Little Gull. Yukon's only documented Little Gull, an adult, was spotted with Bonaparte's Gulls at Lewes Marsh on May 8, 1993.

1) Adult flying (alternate plumage)
2) Adult swimming (alternate plumage)

Mew Gull
The Yukon's most common and widespread gull species, Mew Gulls arrive in early-May and breed throughout the Yukon. Most birds leave the Territory by mid-August with a few juveniles lingering through late August and early September.

1) Adult showing wing(alternate plumage)
2) Adult standing(alternate plumage)
3) Adult standing (moulting into basic)
4) In your face Adult (alternate)

Ring-billed Gull
While gull-watchers in eastern North America scrutinize Ring-billed Gulls for Mew Gulls, the opposite is true in the Yukon where Ring-billed Gull is rare. Breeding has not yet been confirmed in the Territory.

1) Adult in flight (alternate plumage)
2) Adult standing (alternate plumage)
3) Adult pair (alternate plumage)

NEW PHOTOS: August 1999: More examples of a pristine adult:

1) adult standing
2) the same bird in flight

California Gull
California Gull is a rare visitor to the Yukon. The following is a complete list (by year) of records for the Yukon with two records from Inuvik, Northwest Territories:

1) juvenile, August 11-14, 1992, Whitehorse, YT. Observers: C.D.Eckert & P.Sinclair. Photos: i) standing/flying composite.

1) adult (alternate), May 14 & 24, 1994. Whitehorse, YT. Observer: H.Grunberg. Photos: i) on file.

1) adult (basic), September 20-22, 1995, Whitehorse, YT. Observers: C.D.Eckert & P.Sinclair. Photos: i) standing.

2) immature (second-winter), September 20 to October 4, 1995, Whitehorse, YT. Observers: C.D.Eckert & P.Sinclair. Photos: i) standing, ii) standing, iii) flying, iv) flying, v) flying.

1) immature (second-summer), June 23, 1997, Whitehorse, YT. Observer: C.D.Eckert. Photos: i) standing, ii) take off. Note: this bird seemed larger billed than others.

2) immature (first-summer), June 24, 1997, Whitehorse, YT. Observer: C.D.Eckert. Photos: i) standing, ii) standing.

1) first-summer, May 19, 1998, Whitehorse, YT. Observer: C.D.Eckert. Photos: i) in flight, ii) standing.

2) juvenile, August 28-30, 1998, Whitehorse, YT. Observer: C.D.Eckert. Photos: i) standing, ii) in flight.

1) immature (first-summer), June 4, 1999, Whitehorse, YT. Observer: C.D.Eckert. Photos: i) on file.

2) immature (second-summer), August 16, 1999, Whitehorse, YT. Observer: C.D.Eckert. Photos: i) on file.

3) adult (moulting to basic), August 27 to September 5, 1999, Whitehorse, YT. Observer: C.D.Eckert. Photos: i) standing.


1) adult (moulting to basic), August 4, 1996, Inuvik, NWT. Observers: C.D.Eckert & P.Sinclair. Photos: i) standing, ii) standing.

2) adult (alternate), August 13, 1997, Inuvik, NWT. Observers: C.D.Eckert & P.Sinclair. Photos: i) standing, ii) take off.

Herring Gull
Herring Gull is a common and widespread Yukon breeding species. Typically, Herring Gulls arrive in mid-April (just prior to Mew Gulls) and depart the Territory by late-October. There are a few breeding colonies in the Whitehorse area and free-flying juveniles are common from late-July through August.

1) Adult in flight (alternate plumage)
2) Adult standing (alternate plumage)
3) Juvenile standing (alternate plumage)
4) Juvenile in flight (alternate plumage)

A yellow-legged Herring Gull

An adult Herring Gull with yellow legs was photographed in Whitehorse, Yukon on April 22, 1997 by Cameron Eckert. Its size, shape, mantle colour and wing pattern appeared typical of L.a. smithsonianus . However, its legs appeared very yellow. The photos seemed to draw out some of the pinker tones, but the dominant colour in the field was yellow. These photos will be interest to birders studying occurrences of Yellow-legged Gulls (Larus michahellis) in North America. Those who have commented on this gull agree that its a regular American Herring Gull with yellow legs. Send comments to the Email: yukonbirdclub AT gmail.com

1) close-up of legs
2) yellow-legs (left), pink legs (right)

Thayer's Gull
Thayer's Gull is a common fall migrant through southern Yukon. Adult Thayer's Gulls appear in late-August and depart by late-October. Juvenile birds arrive by mid-September and depart by early-November. While similar in appearance to the more common Herring Gull, the Thayer's Gull is generally smaller, with a proportionally slighter bill and adults have a slightly darker mantle. Photo 3 shows a good comparison of bill sizes (a juvenile Thayer's Gull with a juvenile Herring Gull). Thayer's Gull's more rounded head shape gives it a gentle look which is unlike the chunky scowl of the Herring Gull. Adult Thayer's Gulls have a bright red (not yellow) orbital ring and tend to have dark eyes while adult Herring Gulls tend to have pale yellow eyes.

1) Adult (alternate plumage)
2) late first-winter (May) plumage
3) Juvenile bird (head shot)
4) Juvenile bird

This ambiguous alternate-plumage adult was photographed in Whitehorse in September 1997. While the primaries are rather dark, the iris is extremely pale. Would this bird pass for an Iceland Gull on the West Coast? Would it pass for a Thayer's Gull on the East Coast? Send comments to the Email: yukonbirdclub AT gmail.com

1) Thayers/Kumliens intergrade?
2) Thayers/Kumliens intergrade?(head shot)

Kumlien's Iceland Gull
While there have been a few Iceland Gull wannabees in the Yukon, to date there just two well-documented Yukon records of Iceland Gull. In October 1993, a first-winter bird (photo 1) spent about two weeks at the Whitehorse landfill. Then in a repeat performance, another first-winter bird (photos 2 & 3) was at the Whitehorse landfill for two weeks in October 1998. There is some evidence to suggest that the 1998 bird may have been of the nominate subspecies, Larus glaucoides glaucoides.

1) first-winter bird (1993).
2) first-winter bird (1998).
3) first-winter bird (1998).

This Iceland Gull "wannabee" was well photographed in Whitehorse in November, 1999. Have a look for yourself and send us your comments:

a) flying,
b) wing shot,
c) behold the wonder of autofocus,
d) standing with Herring Gull I,
e) standing with Herring Gull I,
f) standing with Herring Gull II,
g) standing alone.

Email: yukonbirdclub AT gmail.com

Lesser Black-backed Gull
Birders at nearby Juneau, Alaska have been enjoying a Lesser Black-backed Gull at the Mendenhall Glacier for years. In 1997, Yukon gull enthusiasts had their chance to fuss over fuscus when an adult bird lingered in Whitehorse for the better part of July.

1) Adult standing (alternate plumage)

Slaty-backed Gull
To date, there are two documented Yukon records for Slaty-backed Gull. They are as follows:

1) 1997 Slaty-backed Gull: immature (second-summer moulting to third-winter), Whitehorse, Yukon, July 30 to August 2, 1997. Observers: C.D.Eckert, P.Sinclair, & H.Grunberg. Note: P6 is full grown, P5 is half grown, and P4 is missing making for a broken string of pearls. Photos: i) standing, ii) Wing close-up.

2) 1999 Slaty-backed Gull: adult (worn alternate), Whitehorse, Yukon, September 1-3, 1999. Observers: C.D.Eckert & P.Sinclair.

Despite an unfortunate encounter with a waste oil pit, this gull survived to become the subject of the following photo essay:

Larus schistisagus

a) standing I,
b) standing II,
c) standing III,
d) flying I,
e) flying II,
f) low pass,
g) wing study,
h) finale.

An additional Slaty-backed Gull (second-summer) photographed by Cameron Eckert at Point Barrow, Alaska in August 1994:

1) Second-summer (in your face)
2) The same bird with a Glaucous Gull

Glaucous-winged Gull
This species is a rare spring and casual summer & fall visitor to southern Yukon. Observers should be aware that there is a general similarity between Glaucous-winged Gull and hybirds of Herring x Glaucous and Herring x Glaucous-winged which are common in the Yukon. Immature birds can be particularly tricky! Observers should rely on all field marks in order to make a confident identification.

Most Glaucous-winged Gulls observed in southern Yukon are immature birds - usually first-winter plumage. Take note of the bulky body, pale primaries and all black bill which is typical of this age class. To rule out first-winter Herring x Glaucous Gulls check the outer web of the outer tail feather: Glaucous-winged Gull shows a very clean (not barred) outer web.

Glaucous Gull
The Glaucous Gulls which occur in the Yukon are of the smallest subspecies, Larus hyperboreus barrovianus, and with their relativley small size and attenuated form often inspire a double-take. In the Yukon, Glaucous Gulls are most common on the North Coast where they breed widely. They are regular in southern Yukon especially in spring and fall migration.

1) First-winter plumage
2) First-winter plumage

Black-legged Kittiwake
While Black-legged Kittiwake has been reported (rarely) from the North Coast, it was not documented in the Territory until a single adult appeared at Judas Creek (southern Yukon) on May 5, 1996.

We have also included a black and white photo of an adult Black-legged Kittiwake photographed by Cameron Eckert at Point Barrow, Alaska in August 1994.

1) Adult (alternate plumage)

Alaskan Photo:
1) Adult (alternate plumage)

Ross's Gull
Herschel Island is among Northern Yukon's best birding destinations - and on July 24, 1991 the birding was exceptional with the Yukon's first Ross's Gull (a fresh juvenile). The remarkable date of the observation indicates that this bird likely came from a nest not far from Herschel Island. It is a rarely seen plumage of one of North America's rarest gulls.

1) Juvenile (standing)
2) Juvenile (swimming)
3) Juvenile (flying)

Sabine's Gull
Sabine's Gull has been reported from the Yukon's North Coast but never documented. A juvenile Sabine's Gull at Nisutlin River Delta (southern Yukon) on September 14-15, 1996 provided the Yukon's first photo-documented record.

1) Juvenile(flying)
2) Juvenile (flying)

Mystery Gulls
A few oddities to ponder. Let us know what you think: Email: yukonbirdclub AT gmail.com.

1) The Yukon's very own monster gull.

2) Too dark for a Herring Gull?