Ivory Gull – Accepted

1. 05 Jan 1996


Doheny State Beach ORA



Fig. 162, ph., Weintraub & San Miguel (1999), FN 50:224








Figure 162. This Ivory Gull was photographed on 5 January 1996 at Doheny State Beach in Orange County, furnishing one of California’s most surprising records. Black smudges on the face, black spots on the primary tips, and black mottling on wing coverts mark this as a first-winter bird (1996-012; Joel Weintraub).







Ivory Gull

IVORY GULL Pagophila eburnea (Phipps, 1774)

Accepted: 1 (100%)

Treated in Appendix H: no

Not accepted: 0

CBRC review: all records

Not submitted/reviewed: 0

Color image: none

This declining species (Krajick 2003) has a nearly circumpolar distribution, breeding entirely above the Arctic Circle. This hardy gull winters in northern waters with drift ice, typically no closer to California than the northern or central Bering Sea. The species is very rare to casual in the Northeast south of Newfoundland and in the Great Lakes region. It is casual or accidental across the rest of North America, occurring mainly in Canada and the northern United States and exceptionally south to Tennessee. The nearest records to California involve six or seven birds found in British Columbia (Campbell et al. 1990b, King 2002), a 20 December 1975 sight record from southern coastal Washington (the Washington Bird Records Committee did not accept a 23 October 2005 sighting from the state’s northwestern corner), and a 2 January 1926 specimen from northeastern Colorado (Bailey 1926). All of these western records fall between October and January.

A first-winter Ivory Gull that appeared on 5 January 1996 at Doheny State Beach in Orange County (Weintraub and San Miguel 1999; Figure 162) provided the species’ southernmost North American record and surely ranks among the state’s most astonishing finds. The bird, which appeared to be ill when discovered midmorning, departed (physically, and quite possibly metaphysically) the following night. Interestingly, southwestern Tennessee’s Ivory Gull was found within weeks of California’s at nearly the same southerly latitude (FN 50:180).