Little Gull  ( Mouette pygmée )      This species is of special interest to Timiskaming birders.    All sightings should be documented and reported.

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Hydrocoloeus minutus

Description:    Little Gull in breeding plumage
Photo Date:   May 25, 2009


Evanturel Twp.


Michael Werner

General Notes

The Little Gull is one of North America's rarest gulls. Native to Eurasia, it was considered an exceptionally rare vagrant in North America until 1962, when the first nest on this continent was discovered near Oshawa. In the 1980's a breeding population was discovered in the Hudson Bay Lowlands. The only current breeding location known in North America is near Churchill, Manitoba, though they have been documented as breeders at several Ontario sites along the Great Lakes over the last 30 years.

They nest primarily in coastal marshes, the nest being built on a wet grassy knoll or an islet of floating vegetation. They never seem to nest in a given site for more than a few years, and are often found amongst established Black Tern colonies. On migration, they are usually found with flocks of Bonaparte's Gulls.

The total North American population is estimated to be only about 400 individuals, and it remains one of the least understood species on the continent. Formerly in the genus Larus, this species was moved into the newly created genus Hydrocoloeus in 2008 on the basis of genetic differences determined from the study of mitochondrial DNA.

Abundance: Rare Earliest observed:  

Typical spring arrival:

May 18

Typical fall arrival:

Breeding Status: Migrant Latest observed:  

Typical spring departure:

May 26

Typical fall departure:

Documented Observations



May 25, 2009. Three Little Gulls observed and photographed by Michael Werner and Serge Gendron in Evanturel Twp.