Nests on moist ground within tundra zone, usually near freshwater. In southwestern and western Alaska, nests along shorelines of tidally affected ponds, both in tidal sedge flats near coastlines and grass flats slightly inland from there. Also nests along tidal sloughs, in wet meadows bordering small ponds, tundra ponds, on lakes or on very small islands within lakes or ponds; and on narrow peninsulas sticking into small ponds in pond/marsh complexes (Day et al. 2001). Lakes may be up to 200 m in diameter and 1 m deep (Nelson et al. in Bent 1921) and nests on the Y-K Delta are typically within 50 km of the coastline (Brown et al. 1967). In northern Alaska, nests in basin-wetland complexes, which occur in drained lake-basins, and contain extensive wetlands intermixing ponds, lakes, marshes, islets, and peninsulas, are vegetated with Carex aquatilis and Arctophila fulva, and are vegetated on land with mosses, prostrate willows, low forbs, and sedges. Also nest in marshes near oxbow lakes, on small islands in medium to large lakes, in salt marshes, along estuarine lagoons, edges of deep open lakes without islands or with polygonized margins, on rims of low-centered polygons, in wet- sedge/moss meadows, and on drained mudflats at receded edges of lake shorelines (Day et al. 2001). More common coastally than inland.
Bent, A. C. 1921. Life histories of North American gulls and terns. U.S. Natl. Mus. Bull. 113.
Brown, R. G. B., N. G. Blurton Jones, and D. J. T. Hussell. 1967. The breeding behaviour of Sabine’s Gull, Xema sabini. Behaviour 28: 110-140.
Day, R. H., I. J. Stenhouse, and H. G. Gilchrist. 2001. Sabines’s gull (Xema sabini). In The Birds of North America. Vol. 15, No. 593 (A. Poole and F. Gill, Eds.). Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences; Washington, D.C.: The American Ornithologists’ Union.