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48 minutes ago, Bird-Boys said:

Why not young Western Gulls?

Perhaps you are right, although I have never seen WEGU's with such clean and neat scaling on the uppers. Look at a few different examples of juvenile WEGUs and CAGUs. WEGUs typically never look this clean and pattered with wide white edging to mantle feathers. I think the bills of these birds are fairly dainty for WEGU, but I am troubled by the short primaries, which are much better for WEGU than CAGU. What are your thoughts?

CAGU

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/469291361

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/464798941

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/468663531

http://www.gull-research.org/california/1cy/1cyaug39.html

WEGU

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/380405411

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/380405461

http://gull-research.org/occidentalis/1cy/1cyaug02.html

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Yeah, I'm not sure, especially from these photos. I think the length of HY gull's primaries are difficult to assess from photos (although this series of pics does give a nice view of them), and their length as compared to CAGU and WEGU is not always apparent, especially on young birds like these, which still could be growing primary feathers. In my opinion, the pale fringing on the scapular feathers is within range for the freshest of HY WEGU, and some of the uppermost mantle feathers seem to be covered by nape feathers on some of these birds. In my opinion, bill shape on WEGUs and CAGUs is extremely similar, and California's only appears more bulbous because of the pale base of the lower mandible, which isn't even present on some HY CAGUs. IMO, these birds are just too big-headed and big-billed for CAGU. Obviously I could definitely be wrong, but to me, these birds look better for WEGU than CAGU, but are probably not Identifiable with certainty from these photos. I would think a point of reference for size and cropped or closer pics might be more helpful...? And of course a shot of the spread wing.

Edited by Bird-Boys
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Thank you both for your answers. WEGU and CAGU look so similar at this stage in life. The points you made were very interesting and gave me good pointers as to what to look at next time. Unfortunately, none of the gulls flew to show their wings.They looked quite small to me but they were quite far so it is hard to gauge their size with the distance. They were close from a floating device, only point of size comparison. Here are two more photos I cropped more, not sure if it will help. Thank you again for your time, Isabelle DSCF1300.jpg.ceb9d7a4e5b0b1b83a542ab958cb11c0.jpgDSCF1297.thumb.jpg.935ee6735ce39f8bd63d42819cefe42b.jpg

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Both birds look like Western to me. Their heads just look too dark for CAGU IMO. I think the front bird definitely has too big of a bill to be CAGU. The back bird has a smaller than average bill for Western, but I think that it’s still within range for WEGU. Neither bird looks like it has any hint of a pale base to the mandible, which suggests WEGU to me. If I saw these birds out in the field, I would ID them as Western.

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