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Recovery Strategy for the Ross's Gull (Rhodostethia rosea) in Canada (Proposed)

Executive Summary

Ross's Gull is a small gull with a wedge-shaped tail and black collar. It develops a deep pink hue on its chest during breeding season. Ross's Gulls breed mainly in the Eurasian Arctic; however, there are a few breeding locations in Canada. The breeding habitat of Ross's Gull is varied and includes gravelly reefs, marshy wetlands, and hummocky areas in the subarctic, boreal, and high arctic tundra. Ross's Gulls seem to require access to open water such as lakes, ponds, or openings in the pack ice. Nests are often located in areas near Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea) colonies. Ross's Gulls winter in the Bering Sea and Sea of Okhotsk.

The global population is estimated at 50 000 breeding adults and appears to be stable. The known Canadian breeding population is very small, with only a few known breeding pairs each year.

The main threats to the Ross's Gull in Canada include human disturbance, predation, and habitat vulnerability, loss, or destruction. Other limiting factors include their life history (low reproductive output), climate change, and weather.

The recovery goal for the Ross's Gull is to maintain the current population size and distribution in Canada. Because this species has likely always existed in Canada in very low numbers, there will be no attempt at this time to increase the number of breeding pairs.

Four objectives have been identified for the recovery of this species:

  1. maintain known current distribution and number of pairs of Ross's Gulls breeding in Canada over a five-year average;
  2. encourage further research and surveys that may reveal previously unknown nesting concentrations in the Canadian Arctic;
  3. protect breeding habitat through stewardship and conservation agreements and undertake studies to identify critical habitat; and
  4. determine the significance of threats at breeding locations and implement management strategies to reduce threats.

A number of research and management activities have been identified:

  • survey known breeding sites annually;
  • survey potentially suitable habitat at least every five years;
  • examine breeding success, productivity, and limiting factors at known nesting sites;
  • use adaptive management to address threats;
  • restrict detrimental human activities through stewardship and management plan;
  • identify and conserve suitable habitat;
  • identify ways to provide viewing opportunities for birders and photographers without disrupting breeding; and
  • encourage the public to report sightings of Ross's Gulls.

Following research into the effects of disturbance on this species and consultations with the community, critical habitat for the Ross's Gull will be identified in the action plan.