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December 2011


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Jesse Ellis <[log in to unmask]>
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Jesse Ellis <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 23 Dec 2011 19:53:20 -0700
text/plain (83 lines)
Hey all-

I'm not out to rain on anyone's parade, but I might. I'd be really
interested to hear the opinions of some West-coast gull-meisters on this
individual. From all of the photos I've seen, the color patterns are
(obviously) good for Glaucous-winged Gull, but a lot of the structure is
iffy. My chops in terms of gull ID aren't great, but I birded for a year or
two in the Seattle area, and spent many winters in Ithaca NY gulling.
However it's been a few years since I have put a lot of time into gulls
(Madison doesn't get many unless you go to the dump.)

All that said, here's my take on these photos. Every time I look at them, I
feel weird about the head shape. This includes two aspects. One is the bill
and the other is the crown. The bill just doesn't seem heavy enough for a
Glaucous-winged. While it's rather stout, there are a number of photos
where it seems too short and too even. Glaucous-winged Gulls generally have
honkin' huge bills that are long and have a very heavy tip. This bird's
bill seems short and fairly even. There are a few pictures that seem closer
in line to expected for Glaucous-winged Gull, but the best photos (like
this one: show a short,
even bill. The other issue well-illustrated in this photo is the steep
forehead. In my experience, and perusing lots of photos around,
Glaucous-winged Gulls have a flat head and flat forehead sloping slowly
down to the bill, even moreso than the similar feature on a Herring Gull.
This bird looks more Thayer's-like in that aspect.

Another issue is the wing pattern, but this isn't quite as annoying to me.
Most of the photos and guides I've looked at say that p10 should have a
large white mirror, while p9 will lack a mirror or show a small mirror.
This bird has a big mirror. Additionally, most guides and photos show
Glaucous-winged Gulls with very little white tongues/moons on p8 and not a
ton on p7 (see this photo:

I want to be clear, here. These are things about the photos that bother me,
given my personal experience with Glaucous Gulls. I'm not calling an ID one
way or another on this bird from 9 photos. I hope I'm wrong! I just have a
few doubts. I'll probably be up to Duluth to check it out on Monday, if it
stays. I'm throwing this out there to get some discussion going, which, I
think, is traditional for gulls...

Karl, and anyone else who's seen the bird, what do you think about this?
Have any western gull folks looked at the photos accumulating? Anyone else
who's seen Glaucous-winged Gulls have opinions?

Jesse Ellis
Madison WI (and currently Saint Paul, MN)

On Thu, Dec 22, 2011 at 2:59 PM, Karl Bardon <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Beginning at 9:43 this morning, I have been studying an apparent adult
> Glaucous-winged Gull at Canal Park, Duluth, St. Louis County. I say
> apparent because of the many complications inherent in identifying large
> gulls, especially this species. Since Glaucous-winged Gull forms hybrid
> swarms with multiple other species of gulls (including Glaucous, Western
> and Herring), where the majority of some local populations are actually
> hybrids, great must be taken when identifying this species out of range.
> For now I have posted a single photo on MOU recently seen, but will include
> a more in depth analysis on my pbase gull pages (
> ).
> Karl Bardon
> Duluth, MN
> ----
> Join or Leave mou-net:
> Archives:

Jesse Ellis
Post-doctoral Researcher
Dept. of Zoology
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Madison, Dane Co, WI

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