A Scrapbook of Bird Identifications - Gulls

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Gulls are easy to place in their family, but can be really tough to identify because they have various (and similar) plumages in their first couple of years.

Black-legged Kittiwake

breeding plumage (white head)

smudge behind eye, solid black wing tips

juvenile (black collar)

juvenile, showing heavy black wing pattern

breeding plumage, in flight
Bonapartes Gull

breeding plumage (black head, bill)

breeding plumage (black head, bill)
Glaucous-winged Gull

breeding plumage (white head); note red spot on yellow bill, dark iris, no black on wings
Great Black-backed Gull

compare size with Ring-billed Gull (right)

juvenile; white head, lightly streaked breast, black bill and pale pinkish legs

large; white with very dark back, yellow eye with red ring, pink legs
Herring Gull

adults (plain back, streaked neck, white belly, red spot on bill) and juveniles (mottled back, dark belly, black spot on bill)

note indefinite wing tip pattern

breeding plumage (white head); note pale iris

compare to Ring-billed (right); neck, bill spot and leg color
Laughing Gull

ends of wings black on both sides

often found all lined up in the same direction

breeding plumage (black head, narrow eye arcs, red bill)

light gray streaks on head, black bill with red tip, dark legs
Mew Gull

juvenile (note head, belly and tail coloration, and clean plumage)

unmarked yellow bill and black wing tips with large white spots
Ring-billed Gull

lightly streaked head, black ring on bill, yellow legs; ubiquitous

black spot on yellow bill, white trailing wing edges, black wing tips with white spot

compare size, bill spot and leg color to Herring Gull (background)


©2017, Kenneth R. Koehler. All Rights Reserved.