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Sabine's Gull - BirdForum Opus

Photo by darrenward
Lowestoft, Suffolk, UK, June 2003
Xema sabini


33-36 cm
A small, fork-tailed gull, with black primaries and triangular white patch on rear edge of wing. Hood dark in breeding plumage. Bill black with yellow tip. Immature lacks dark hood but can be distinguished by forked tail and striking wing pattern.

Sabine's Gulls have a complete moult in spring before starting the migration north and a partial moult in fall after arrival in the wintering waters off Africa as seen on offshore trips.

Photo by Glen Tepke
Pacific west of Carmel, California, USA, August 2003


North America, Canada, Eurasia and Greenland, Africa.



  • X. s. palaearctica:
  • Spitsbergen east to Taymyr Peninsula and Lena Delta
  • X. s. tschuktschorum:
  • X. s. woznesenskii:
  • X. s. sabini:
Photo by Steve Messick
Jackson Lake S.P., Morgan County Colorado, September 2004


Coasts and tundra.



The 2-3 spotted olive brown eggs are laid in a ground nest, lined with grass.


The diet includes a wide variety of mainly animal food, and will eat any suitable small prey. It will also predate eggs from nesting colonies of Arctic Terns.


  1. Clements, JF. 2011. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to August 2011. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/downloadable-clements-checklist
  2. Wikipedia

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