Xema sabini

Status:  Uncommon regular fall migrant statewide. Accidental in spring.

Documentation: Specimen: UNSM ZM6624, early Sep 1899 Lincoln, Lancaster Co (Swenk 1902).

Taxonomy: There are no subspecies generally recognized, although some authors recognize up to four (Howell and Dunn 2007; Pyle 2008).

Spring:  There is one record:

28 Mar 2009, Branched Oak Lake, Lancaster Co (Silcock 2009).

See Comments.

Fall:  Sep 11, 12, 12 <<<>>> Oct 16, 17, 18

Earlier dates are 15 Aug 2020 Scotts Bluff Co, 27 Aug 2006 at Lake Ogallala, Keith Co, 2 Sep 1899 Gage Co (below), 2 Sep 2014 Lancaster Co, 5 Sep 2013 Scotts Bluff Co, 7 Sep 2018 Keith Co, and 8 Sep 2000 Lake McConaughy, Keith Co.

Later dates are 20 Oct 2020 Capitol Beach Lake, Lancaster Co, 22-26 Oct 1995 Pawnee Lake, Lancaster Co (Brogie 1997), 23 Oct 2017 Lancaster Co, 23 Oct 2020 Branched Oak Lake, Lancaster Co, and a juvenile at Gavin’s Point Dam, Cedar Co 26 Oct-6 Nov 1996 (Brogie 1998).

Adults are rarely reported, with only 10 reports in the period 5 Sep-8 Oct; four of these reports were in a single year, 5-29 Sep 2013.

An immature was picked up exhausted 2 Sep 1899 in Gage Co, kept as a pet, and released about two weeks later (Swenk 1902).

  • High counts: 9 at North Platte NWR, Scotts Bluff Co 21 Sep 1997, 8 at Lake McConaughy, Keith Co 15 Sep 2001, 6-8 at Swanson Reservoir, Hitchcock Co 2 Oct 2020, and 7 at Lake McConaughy 17 Sep 2006.

Unprecedented influxes occurred in 1997 and 1998, with about 35 birds reported in the period 6 Sep-15 Oct 1997 and 32 birds 12 Sep-20 Oct 1998.

Comments: There are very few spring records from neighboring states, interestingly none from Iowa or Missouri (Robbins 2018; Kent and Dinsmore 1996), suggesting movement of only very small numbers in spring on the western Great Plains; documented records are in the period 31 Mar-31 May (Andrews and Righter 1992, Thompson et al 2011, Tallman et al 2002,, accessed December 2017).


NWR: National Wildlife Refuge
UNSM: University of Nebraska State Museum

Literature Cited

Andrews, R., and R. Righter. 1992. Colorado birds. Denver Museum of Natural History, Denver, Colorado, USA.

Brogie, M.A. 1997. 1996 (Eighth) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 65: 115-126.

Brogie, M.A. 1999. 1998 (Tenth) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 67: 141-152.

Howell, S.N.G., and J. Dunn. 2007. Gulls of the Americas. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, New York, USA.

Kent, T.H., and J.J. Dinsmore. 1996. Birds in Iowa. Publshed by the authors, Iowa City and Ames, Iowa, USA.

Pyle, P. 2008. Identification Guide to North American Birds. Part II, Anatidae to Alcidae. Slate Creek Press, Bolinas, California, USA.

Robbins, M.B. 2018. The Status and Distribution of Birds in Missouri. University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute, Lawrence, Kansas, USA.

Silcock, W.R. 2009. Spring Field report, March-May 2009. NBR 77: 46-68.

Swenk, M.H. 1902. Additional Notes on Gage County Birds. Proceedings of Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union 3: 107.

Tallman, D.A., Swanson, D.L., and J.S. Palmer. 2002. Birds of South Dakota. Midstates/Quality Quick Print, Aberdeen, South Dakota, USA.

Thompson, M.C., C.A. Ely, B. Gress, C. Otte, S.T. Patti, D. Seibel, and E.A. Young. 2011. Birds of Kansas.  University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, USA.

Recommended Citation:

Silcock, W.R., and J.G. Jorgensen. 2020. Sabine’s Gull (Xema sabini). In Birds of Nebraska — Online.

Birds of Nebraska – Online

Updated 24 Dec 2020