Pale-winged Thayer's Gulls in the Canadian High Arctic

by Jean Iron and Ron Pittaway


In 3 Parts: Part 1

Historical photo from Ellesmere Island in Parmelee and MacDonald (1960)

Thayer's Gulls at Slidre Fiord on Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada on 14 June 1955 in Parmelee and MacDonald (1960). The right individual with reduced pigmentation in the wingtips would likely be considered a Kumlien's Gull at lower latitudes. The National Museum of Canada party collected specimens of Thayer’s Gull near Eureka on Ellesmere (80 degrees N latitude). One female has the entire wingtips white or nearly white. A.H. Macpherson (pers. comm.) to Parmelee and MacDonald reported that Thayer’s Gulls with grey to light wing tips appear to be numerous in the breeding range only at high latitudes. Where they winter is unknown.

Literature Cited: Parmelee and MacDonald. 1960. The birds of west-central Ellesmere Island and adjacent areas. Bulletin 169. National Museum of Canada.


Part 2

Recent photos from north coast of Baffin Island

A pale-winged adult Thayer's Gull at Pond Inlet on the north coast of Baffin Island, Nunavut, in the Canadian High Arctic on 22 August 2006. This individual would be called a Kumlien's Gull if seen on the winter range in southern Canada or the United States.


Same pale-winged Thayer's Gull (top) with a more typical Thayer's (bottom) at Pond Inlet on 22 August 2006.


Same pale-winged Thayer's Gull with adult Glaucous Gull at Pond Inlet on 22 August 2006.


Part 3

Illustration below from The Birds of Canada (Godfrey 1986)

Illustration shows the pale extreme and average Thayer's Gull wingtip patterns based on specimens from the breeding grounds in the Canadian Museum of Nature.


Link to Taxonomic History of Thayer's Gull