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I am terrible at gulls. If these follow the pattern they are likely Glaucous-winged or Ring-billed but I have trouble telling. All photos taken 2/22/2020 at Alton Baker Park in Eugene, OR.

Gull 1
MIl85dM.jpg

Gull 2
zRMPMuI.jpg

Gull 3
kSp8Y9N.jpg

Thanks for your help!

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1. Glaucous-winged Gull with perhaps some suggestion of Herring parentage as well

2. Western or Glaucous-winged x Western

3. Glaucous-winged, perhaps a hybrid. I am trying to tell if there is barring on the outer tail feathers there, which would suggest Herring Gull parentage. Otherwise, I could see it being Glaucous-winged, Glaucous-winged x Western, or Glaucous-winged x Herring, not really sure.

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Here is my reasoning. Gulls can be confusing so just to elucidate my identification process.

Picture 1 - this bird looks mostly like Glaucous-winged Gull. The primaries are too pale for anything else. However - notice the black spot on the bill, the paler eye than usual for Glaucous-winged, the noticeable darker gray on the tips of the outer primaries (both upperside and underside), and the somewhat less rounded primary "hand" than expected for Glaucous-winged Gull all suggest a small amount of Herring influence. The mantle/upperwing is too pale for Glaucous-winged x Western, and the bill too slender. So this is a Glaucous-winged x Herring Gull, but closer to the Glaucous-winged end of the spectrum.

Picture 2 - this is a Western Gull. Note the clean white head in winter - other gulls tend to have dusky brownish streaking or smudging on the head and neck in nonbreeding plumage. Also note the very hefty, bulbous-tipped bill which is typical of Western Gull. The iris color is also typical of Western, dusky but not totally dark, a sort of olive-yellow-gray color. Also note the pink feet and the fairly dark upperwing. There could be a slight suggestion of Glaucous-winged - I am noticing the pale underside to the primaries - but that could also be due to the lighting. So this is pretty much a pure Western Gull, maybe with just a little Glaucous-winged mixed in, but maybe not.

Picture 3 - the uniform brownish color, the all-black bill, and the pale underside to the primaries show that this is a first winter gull with Glaucous-winged parentage. It could be a pure Glaucous-winged Gull, but it seems too dark brownish overall, more like a Glaucous-winged x Western or Glaucous-winged x Herring hybrid. Beyond that, I'm not certain.

 

Gull ID is not always totally straightforward, but it is easier than people seem to think.Learn the common gulls in your area. Pay attention to size, shape (bill, head and neck, wing length, etc), plumage (especially primary color and mantle color), and soft parts colors (leg color, iris color, bill color). Also pay attention to the age of the gulls - with the large white-headed gulls, they typically take 4 years to reach adult plumage, and you can tell their age by their plumage, which can help inform your identification. 1st winter birds of these large white-headed gulls have brownish mantle, scapulars, upperwing coverts, secondaries, tertials, with primary and tail color depending more on species. 2nd winter birds have grayish mantle and scapulars, closer to the adult color, but still have the upperwing coverts still look like the 1st winter bird. By the 3rd winter, birds look pretty close to adult in terms of flight feathers and mantle color, but often the bill color is not the same as the adult, and there is often more dusky streaking/smudging on the head and neck. By 4th winter, they are adults (or pretty close to being adults) in terms of plumage.

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Alex — Thank you for taking the time to explain all of this. I hope it eventually sinks in a bit. I tend to ID intuitively where my intuitions are shaped by my experience of observing a species in the wild. After enough experience I just start recognizing the species on sight. Some species take longer than others. Starlings used to trip me up a lot due to their varied appearance due to age and season. So far gulls have been the most resistant to my natural intuitive process. I do recognize Glaucous-winged and Ring-billed most of the time now, but the other species are not yet coming into focus. The situation with gulls is more complex than with Starlings because of all the hybridization, especially here in the PNW. Again, thank you so much for all of your help, which is especially valuable in a forum like this where others can benefit as well.

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I'm not convinced of Glaucous-winged for #2. The lighting is harsh/extreme, causing overexposure below and, possibly or probably, underexposure above. I would imagine that adult Glaucous-wingeds should be getting ready to breed, thus they could very well have all-white heads by now. I agree that it's either a Western or a Glaucous-winged or something intermediate, but I think that the bird is not definitively identifiable with this single photo.

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15 hours ago, Tony Leukering said:

I'm not convinced of Glaucous-winged for #2. The lighting is harsh/extreme, causing overexposure below and, possibly or probably, underexposure above. I would imagine that adult Glaucous-wingeds should be getting ready to breed, thus they could very well have all-white heads by now. I agree that it's either a Western or a Glaucous-winged or something intermediate, but I think that the bird is not definitively identifiable with this single photo.

Tony — thanks for your input. I have included the only two images I have of #2 below. I've reduced the exposure some to try and get more detail out of the over-exposed areas.

MK5ZnIY.jpg

ItzEKVB.jpg

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