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.

Bonapartes Gull

breeding plumage (black head, bill)

breeding plumage (black head, bill)
Great Black-backed Gull

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

compare size with Ring-billed Gull (right)

very large, dark back and wings, white spot on darker wing-tips, white head, neck and below, pale pinkish legs and red spot on bill
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

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

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

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

ends of wings black on both sides

often found all lined up in the same direction
Ring-billed Gull

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

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

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


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