Chirps and Cheeps

A Photo Journal of My Birding Adventures & Observations

My birding blog site


  I See Gulls

Published: January 09, 2019
Tags: General Observations, lesser black-backed gull, great black-backed gull, iceland gull, herring gull, ring-billed gull, lake erie

After the rain ended my birding at Evangola State Park yesterday, I dried off only to go back out again in a couple of hours when things began to clear.  I went to a couple of spots by Lake Erie to scope and scan whatever gulls might be around.

I found two gulls that captured my attention: a Lesser Black-backed and an Iceland Gull.  The latter was pretty straightforward, a lovely, little first winter bird.  I find these gulls exceptionally pretty - dainty, even.

The Lesser Black-backed Gull was more interesting to me.  From a distance, I thought the gull was an adult, but when I got closer, I saw it was actually a sub-adult, an age I don't believe I've ever seen before in this species.  In the photos, note coloration of the bill; much black is still left and the tip has turned yellow, giving it a bi-colored appearance.  The legs have not quite turned fully pink yet, the head is quite streaked, and the dark feathering around its eyes give it a "punched in the eye" look.  All of these characteristics fit a younger bird but surprisingly, the mantle was fully a dark gray like an adult's.  Upon close inspection, however, there are slight tinges of brown evident on the tertials and parts of the wing coverts, cinching the bird's age as sub-adult.

Secondly, give the photo of the group of gulls a good look.  It's a nice size comparison of the Lesser Black-backed on the left standing near two Great Black-backs (one adult and one juvenile), a Ring-billed Gull, and a Herring Gull.  I thought it was very considerate of them to all group together like that.

I found this bird to be a really fun aging and size study and certainly worth the trip back out into the drippy day again.

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Iceland Gull

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Iceland Gull

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Iceland Gull

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Lesser Black-backed Gull

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Lesser Black-backed Gull

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Lesser Black-backed Gull

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Lesser Black-backed Gull

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Lesser Black-backed Gull

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A nice grouping, showing the size differences between the two Great Black-backeds, a Ring-billed (small in the center back with yellow legs), and a Herring (front right) as compared to the Lesser Black-backed.



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