She sees sea Gulls by the sea shore

December 14, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

I am finally giving in and working on my gull skills. As with anything new, it seems quite daunting. "Where do I begin? There are just so many variations? I'll never learn this. Who cares?"  All the self doubt, fear of failure, fear of feeling stupid or being found out that I am a sham, seems to apply to gull ? ID, new art, and any new skill. But, I find when I take a deep breath and approach it methodically and patiently, it all starts to come together.  I am not an expert overnight and I still have a long way to go, but making the effort sure helps.  

This will be a living blog that I will update as I get new information, insights, and photos. If you find I have made an error, please let me know. I will correct it and learn. If you know another source, let me know. If you find this helpful, let me know.

So here goes. I am highlighting a few key points that will help me in the field and help me to remember the differences.

Local Gulls in Size Order:

BOGU Bonaparte's Gull - Chroicocephalus philadelphia (13.5") Two-year gull
Pigeon size, Black bill,  Post occular spot, Generally don't mix with others

Bonaparte's Gull - Chroicocephalus philadelphia (1st winter)1st Winter
1st Winter

Bonaparte's Gull - Chroicocephalus philadelphiaBreeding Adult

1st Summer

Bonaparte's Gull - Chroicocephalus philadelphiaWinter Adult

Winter Adult
(non-
breeding)

MEGU Mew Gull - Larus canus  (17") Three-year gull
Similar to Ring-billed, but smaller bill and shorter legs. Dark iris on adult.  Winters on the coast


Mew Gull - Larus canus (1st winter)1st Winter
1st Winter

Mew Gull - Larus canus (2nd winter)2nd Winteryellow bill may be slightly ringed, yellow legs
2nd Winter
yellow bill may be slightly ringed
yellow legs

Mew Gull - Larus canus (adult winter)Winter Adultdark iris, yellow bill, yellow legs

Winter Adult
(non-breeding)
dark iris, yellow bill, yellow legs

RBGU Ring-billed Gull - Larus delawarensis (17.5") Three-year gull  
Pale mantle

Ring-billed Gull -  Larus delawarensis1st Winterpink bill, pink legs

1st Winter
pink bill, pink legs

2nd winter 2nd WinterSimilar to adult, fewer tail markings, thick band on bill,
2nd Winter
Similar to adult, fewer tail markings, thick band on bill,

Ring-billed Gull -  Larus delawarensisNon-breeding Adultyellow legs, yellow bill,  light iris ringed with red
Winter Adult
(non-breeding)
yellow legs, yellow bill,
light iris ringed with red

HEEG Heerman's Gull -Larus heermanni (19") Four-year Gull   
Distinctive, dark easy to identify

Heerman's Gull - Larus heermanniHeerman's Gull - Larus heermanniOrder: CHARADRIIFORMES - Plovers, Sandpipers, and Allies
Family: LARIDAE - Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers

Immature, Alamitos Bay, 12/09/2011
1st Winter
all dark brown, pale bill

Heerman's Gull - Larus heermanni (immature)Heerman's Gull - Larus heermanni (immature)Order: CHARADRIIFORMES - Plovers, Sandpipers, and Allies
Family: LARIDAE - Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers

Marina Stadium, Long Beach 12/03/2014

2nd Winter
uniformly dark, but more sooty

Heerman's Gull - Larus heermanniHeerman's Gull - Larus heermanniOrder: CHARADRIIFORMES - Plovers, Sandpipers, and Allies
Family: LARIDAE - Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers

Winter Plummage, Alamitos Bay 11/23/2010
3rd Winter
similar to non-breeding adult

Winter Adult
(non-breeding)
red bill

Heerman's Gull - Larus heermanniHeerman's Gull - Larus heermanniMalibu Lagoon 06/14/2106 Breeding Adult

CAGU California Gull - Larus californicus (21") Four-year Gull  
Variable, mantle lighter than western, adult yellowish legs, dark eye, slim straight bill

California Gull - Larus californicus (1st Wiinter)California Gull - Larus californicus (1st Wiinter)California Gull - Larus californicus (1st Wiinter) Dana Point, San Juan Creek Mouth 12/11/2016 1st Winter
pink legs, pink bill with black tip
 

 

California Gull - Larus californicus (2nd Wiinter)California Gull - Larus californicus (2nd Wiinter)California Gull - Larus californicus (2nd Wiinter) Dana Point, San Juan Creek Mouth 12/11/2016

2nd Winter
bluish legs, dark iris

 

California Gull - Larus californicus (3rd Wiinter)California Gull - Larus californicus (3rd Wiinter)California Gull - Larus californicus (3rd Wiinter) Dana Point, San Juan Creek Mouth 12/11/2016 3rd Winter
bluish legs, dark iris
 

California Gull - Larus californicusCalifornia Gull - Larus californicusOrder: CHARADRIIFORMES - Plovers, Sandpipers, and Allies

Family: LARIDAE - Gulls, Terns, and Skimmer


Colorado Lagoon 01/08/2015
Winter Adult
(non-breeding)
dark eye, green-yellow legs,
red and black mark on bill

 

Thayers (23)"  Four-year Gull - UNCOMMON IN OUR AREA
Highly Variable

Thayer's Gull - Larus glaucoides ssp. thayeri (1st Winter)Thayer's Gull - Larus glaucoides ssp. thayeri (1st Winter)Thayer's Gull - Larus glaucoides ssp. thayeri (1st Winter) LA River, Willow St. Bridge 01/06/2017

1st Winter
brown primaries, thin bill
 

2nd Winter
 

3rd Winter
 

Winter Adult
(non-breeding)

Yellow-footed (24") Four-year Gull - UNCOMMON IN OUR AREA

I got nothing

1st Winter
 

2nd Winter
 

3rd Winter
 

Winter Adult
(non-breeding)

WEGU  Western Gull - Larus occidentalis (25")  Four-year Gull
Adults White head, dark gray back, pink legs, large yellow bill with red dot,thick tipped, slightly drooping, darker eyes

Western Gull - Larus occidentalis1st Winter 1st Winter
very dark, large bill, may have pale base lower mandible


Western Gull - Larus occidentalisWestern Gull - Larus occidentalisWestern Gull - Larus occidentalis LA River, Compton 03/10/2017 2nd Winter

dark gray back, two toned bill, yellow eye
 

Western Gull - Larus occidentalisWestern Gull - Larus occidentalisAlmansor Park, Alhambra 02/04/2016 3rd Winter
resembles 3rd yr Yellow-footed, but tail is white
May still have some black on the bill

Western Gull - Larus occidentalisWestern Gull - Larus occidentalisOrder: CHARADRIIFORMES - Plovers, Sandpipers, and Allies
Family: LARIDAE - Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers

Resident
Winter Adult
(non-breeding)
red dot on bill
pink legs

HERG  Herring Gull - Larus argentatus (25") Four-year Gull
Mantle lighter than California Gull, Highly variable

Section needs work

Herring Gull - Larus argentatus (1st winter)Herring Gull - Larus argentatus (1st winter)Herring Gull - Larus argentatus (1st winter) Dana Point, San Juan Creek Mouth 12/11/2016
1st Winter

Herring Gull - Larus argentatusHerring Gull - Larus argentatusHerring Gull - Larus argentatus LA River, Compton 03/10/2017 2nd Winter
 

Herring Gull - Larus argentatusHerring Gull - Larus argentatusHerring Gull - Larus argentatus LA River, Compton 03/14/2017 3rd Winter
 

Herring Gull - Larus argentatusHerring Gull - Larus argentatusHerring Gull - Larus argentatus LA River, Compton 03/12/2017 Winter Adult
(non-breeding)
pink legs, pale eye,
streaky neck


GWGU  Glaucous-winged Gull - Larus glaucescens (26")  Four-year Gull
Bill shape variable, unpatterned and uniformly colored plumage. Wing tips same color as back.
Hybridizes

Glaucous-winged Gull - Larus glaucescens (1st winter)(1st winter)Glaucous-winged Gull - Larus glaucescens (1st winter)
1st Winter
all-dark bill

2nd Winter
 

3rd Winter
 

Glaucous-winged Gull - Larus glaucescens (hybrid)Glaucous-winged Gull - Larus glaucescens (hybrid)Order: CHARADRIIFORMES - Plovers, Sandpipers, and Allies

Family: LARIDAE - Gulls, Terns, and Skimmer

(possible hybrid with a Western Gull)

Alamitos Bay 12/04/2013
Winter Adult
(non-breeding)
wing tips same color as mantle
(the one in this photo may be a hybrid with slightly darker wing tips.)
 

 

Same Year Birds:

First year birds 

Mew Gull - Larus canus (1st winter)1st Winter

MEGU

Ring-billed Gull -  Larus delawarensis1st Winterpink bill, pink legs

RBGU

California Gull - Larus californicus (1st Wiinter)California Gull - Larus californicus (1st Wiinter)California Gull - Larus californicus (1st Wiinter) Dana Point, San Juan Creek Mouth 12/11/2016

CAGU

Glaucous-winged Gull - Larus glaucescens (1st winter)(1st winter)Glaucous-winged Gull - Larus glaucescens (1st winter)

GWGU

Western Gull - Larus occidentalis1st Winter

WEGU

Herring Gull - Larus argentatus (1st winter)Herring Gull - Larus argentatus (1st winter)Herring Gull - Larus argentatus (1st winter) Dana Point, San Juan Creek Mouth 12/11/2016
HERG

Adult 

Mew Gull - Larus canus (adult winter)Winter Adultdark iris, yellow bill, yellow legs

MEGU
yellow bill, yellow legs
pigeon size, dark iris

 

Ring-billed Gull -  Larus delawarensis1st Winterpink bill, pink legs

 

RBGU
yellow legs, yellow bill,
light iris ringed with red

California Gull - Larus californicus (or hybrid)California Gull - Larus californicus (or hybrid)LA River, Long Beach 12/19/2015

CAGU
yellow legs, yellow bill
darker gray back, red dot and black on bill, dark iris

Glaucous-winged Gull - Larus glaucescens (hybrid)Glaucous-winged Gull - Larus glaucescens (hybrid)Order: CHARADRIIFORMES - Plovers, Sandpipers, and Allies

Family: LARIDAE - Gulls, Terns, and Skimmer

(possible hybrid with a Western Gull)

Alamitos Bay 12/04/2013
 GWGU

pink legs
wing tips same color as mantle

Western Gull - Larus occidentalis1st Winter

WEGU

pink legs
red dot on bill, dark back

 

Herring Gull - Larus argentatusHerring Gull - Larus argentatusHerring Gull - Larus argentatus LA River, Compton 03/12/2017

HERG
pink legs
pale eye, streaky neck

 

 

 

And now for some side by side comparisons:

1st Winter California Gull - Larus californicus, Dana Point, Glaucous-winged Gull - Larus (r)1st Winter California Gull - Larus californicus, Dana Point, Glaucous-winged Gull - Larus (r)1st Winter California Gull - Larus californicus, Dana Point, Glaucous-winged Gull - Larus (r) Dana Point, San Juan Creek Mouth 12/11/2016

CAGU GWGU

 

1st winter birds California Gull - Larus californicus, Western Gull - Larus occidentalis1st winter birds California Gull - Larus californicus, Western Gull - Larus occidentalis1st winter birds California Gull - Larus californicus, Western Gull - Larus occidentalis Dana Point, San Juan Creek Mouth 12/11/2016

CAGU  WEGU

 

Dana Point, San Juan Creek Mouth 12/11/2016

WEGU  CAGU

 

 

Western Gull - Larus occidentalis  ( Winter Adult (l) and 2nd Winter (r))Western Gull - Larus occidentalis ( Winter Adult (l) and 2nd Winter (r))Western Gull - Larus occidentalis ( Winter Adult (l) and 2nd Winter (r)) Dana Point, San Juan Creek Mouth 12/11/2016

WEGU (Adult and 2nd)

(l) Ring-billed Gull -  Larus delawarensis, (r) Western Gull - Larus occidentalis (Winter Adults)(l) Ring-billed Gull - Larus delawarensis, (r) Western Gull - Larus occidentalis (Winter Adults)(l) Ring-billed Gull - Larus delawarensis, (r) Western Gull - Larus occidentalis (Winter Adults) Dana Point, San Juan Creek Mouth 12/11/2016

RBGU  WEGU

 

Ring-billed Gull (Winter Adult), Western Gull (2nd Winter)Ring-billed Gull (Winter Adult), Western Gull (2nd Winter)Ring-billed Gull (Winter Adult), Western Gull (2nd Winter) Dana Point, San Juan Creek Mouth 12/11/2016

RBGU  WEGU (2nd)


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