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Too Dark for Herring?


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3 minutes ago, KnotLisa said:

Thanks! I am just learning my gulls, but I thought Lesser Black-backed had yellow legs. Is that a reliable field mark? The legs here don't look yellow to me, but rather pink.

Their legs can be pink, yellow or a grayish color depending on age. This is not a reliable field mark.

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Thanks Birds are cool, for that great tip! I was able to find quite a few pictures and references for first and second year Lesser Black-backed with pink legs and feet, but nothing for older birds. This bird appears close to being an adult, so I guess the pink legs ID point "can" be extended to "some" sub-adult/adult birds too!

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Interestingly, I received a request from the eBird reviewer to change this to Herring Gull! I did (for now) but asked for clarification because I thought the wings might be too dark for Herring (no answer yet). Anyone else here want to chime in on this - Lesser Black-backed vs Herring? The more the merrier!!! Thanks - I'm always ready to learn more.

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19 minutes ago, KnotLisa said:

Interestingly, I received a request from the eBird reviewer to change this to Herring Gull! I did (for now) but asked for clarification because I thought the wings might be too dark for Herring (no answer yet). Anyone else here want to chime in on this - Lesser Black-backed vs Herring? The more the merrier!!! Thanks - I'm always ready to learn more.

I was under the impression that adult LBBG have yellow legs. I’m not even close to being well versed on gulls, so I didn’t say anything. I would have ID’d this in the field as a Herring, the back does not look dark enough. 

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This may be a candidate for Herring x Great Black-backed, known as a "Great Lakes Gull".

From memory the back is an intermediate grey; the bill is black, red and flesh coloured; with the legs being a dark pink.

The one I came across stood out in a group of Herring Gulls.

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6 minutes ago, RobinHood said:

This may be a candidate for Herring x Great Black-backed, known as a "Great Lakes Gull".

From memory the back is an intermediate grey; the bill is black, red and flesh coloured; with the legs being a dark pink.

The one I came across stood out in a group of Herring Gulls.

I don't think it looks very hybrid-y to me...seems like a relatively standard Herring that I somehow messed up.

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3 hours ago, Quiscalus quiscula said:

I don't think it looks very hybrid-y to me...

In what way? 

It does look very similar to the Great Lakes gull that has been on Lake Champlain for a few years that I have yet to track down. However that bird has a cleaner head, though with hybrids I’m not sure that matters too much. 

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Thanks EVERYONE - this is a great discussion, with a bunch of good points! Learning so much here. I would say so far that the consensus seems to be for Herring, but I'm intrigued by the possibility of a hybrid. I never even knew about the Great Lakes Gull, but some of the pics I've seen do seem to support the pink legs and darker (as I see it) wings. Not sure if there's anything else in Gull identification (bill, gonydeal angle, mirrors - not even entirely sure I know what that means) that can be used to support either Herring or something else?

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I am not familiar with the GBBG x HERG taxon, but the mantle does seem oddly dark for a pure Herring, especially in bright daylight. It would be interesting to see what your reviewer says about that specific hybrid with regards to this particular bird.

Just for reference...

https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/490129-Larus-argentatus---marinus/browse_photos

https://media.ebird.org/catalog?taxonCode=x00047&sort=rating_rank_desc

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12 hours ago, Avery said:

In what way? 

It does look very similar to the Great Lakes gull that has been on Lake Champlain for a few years that I have yet to track down. However that bird has a cleaner head, though with hybrids I’m not sure that matters too much. 

Just a feeling... I better not say too much more because of my ignorance in gull identification.

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Thanks for the addition input and the links - very interesting! I have not had a response from the eBird reviewer yet. I have also reached out to one of the "big names" in gull identification, and a gentleman from Cornell with experience with Great Lakes Gull. I will update here as applicable. Thanks again!

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Well, I received one response (so far), though nothing from the eBird reviewer. I asked for the gentleman's permission to use his name in a public discussion, but so far have not received an answer on that. So his words will remain anonymous for now. This is what he said:

"Not positive it couldn't be a Herring x Lesser, but I think Herring x Great is probably a good bet."

Not exactly a 100% endorsement, but leaning in the direction that I am too. Part of the problem with this bird (for me) is that I know of only one feature to base the ID on, and that's the relative darkness of the wings. After looking at LOTS of pics of Herring and Herring x GBBG, I'm seeing that the dark wings point better to the hybrid than to pure Herring. As usual, I could be wrong though. 🙂 I will try reaching out to some other gull people via email to see if I can get more info about this ID, and exactly WHY it is what it is. Also, I understand there's a Facebook Gull ID page (North American Gulls, I think), but since I don't do Facebook, I give permission to anyone who's interested in this gull to copy these pics and post there. Thanks again, and I've included another pic from a little further back. (The only pics I have are from this angle.)

_I4A4694.jpg

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