The Sabine’s Gulls, Xema sabini, is a small gull, the only species in its genus. It breeds in the Arctic and has a circumpolar distribution through northernmost North America and Eurasia. It migrates south in autumn, most of the population wintering at sea in the North Pacific, although Greenland and eastern Canadian birds cross the Atlantic to winter off northwest Europe. Occasionally individual Sabine’s gulls can be seen well off the coast of the northeastern United States. This species is easy to identify through its striking wing pattern. The adult had a pale grey back and wing cover, black primary flight feathers, and white secondaries (shorter, upper “arm” feathers). The whitetail is forked. The male’s hood darkens during the breeding season. Their bills are black with a yellow tip. Young birds have a similar tricolored wing pattern, but the grey is replaced by brown, and the tail has a black terminal band. The juveniles take two years to attain full adult plumage. These gulls have a very high-pitched and squeaking call.
The Sabine’s Gull breeds in colonies on coasts and tundra, laying two or three spotted olive-brown eggs in a ground nest lined with grass. It is very pelagic outside the breeding season. It takes a wide variety of mainly animal food and will eat any suitable small prey. It also steals eggs from nesting colonies of Arctic Terns.
This bird was named after the English scientist Sir Edward Sabine by his brother Joseph Sabine.
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