Ivory Gull

Pagophila eburnea

Ivory Gulls are surely one of the most sought after sights in the arctic. The Pribilofs are well south of this species’ normal range. It is likely that Ivory Gulls occur near Saint Paul only during the cold and dark winter months, especially on years where the pack ice envelops the island. On February 21, 1983, the Alaska high count for this species, an incredible 250 individuals, was furnished at the edge of the icepack just east of Saint Paul. During the regular tour season of May to September Ivory Gulls have yet to be recorded, but anyone lucky enough to find one would definitely elicit a warm response from any other birders on the island at the time. Perhaps the best bet for finding this species on the Pribilofs, if the winter months hold no appeal, would be to come very early in May on a hard ice year and spend a significant amount of time watching the pack ice along the island’s north shore. The identification of this gull is straightforward, as no other adult gull is completely white, and no other immature has black tipped primaries, and a dusky wash across the face. Ivory Gulls are approximately the same size as Black-legged Kittiwakes and might associate with that species.