Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gull Watching: Herring Gull

Sorry about the delay on my second gull post.  In the future, I'll try to post a new gull every day, but I may take two days to do so from time to time.  Anyway, back to the gulls.  Let's look at some photographs of Herring Gulls.  I unfortunately couldn't find any photos of Herring Gulls standing or even sitting on the water in my files, so bear with the photographs.
Adult Herring Gull (left) with Great Black-backed Gull.  Note size, fairly large, although clearly smaller than Great Black-backed Gull, relatively skinny compared to other large gulls, pale gray upperparts, white tail, heavily streaked head and neck, pink legs. February 2011, Pelagic out of Lewes, DE. [Photo by Lukas Musher]
Adult Herring Gull. Note shallow forehead, relatively long bill, pale iris, pink legs, pale gray upperparts with black outer primaries, neatly streaked head and neck, red gonydeal spot.  February 2011.  Pelagic off of Lewes, DE. [Photo by Lukas Musher]
Herring Gulls of mixed ages. Clockwise from left, first cycle, second cycle, first (probably) cycle, adult, adult.  For all, note same structural features as above.  First cycle: note, black bill, pink legs, mostly brown plumage with nearly black primaries (not visible from underwing), indistinct streaks on breast and flanks.  Second cycle: note, dark outer primaries with contrastingly pale inner primaries, nearly black tail, pink-based and black-tipped bill, gray scapulars and mantle.  Adult (nonbreeding): note pale gray upperparts with neatly delineated black wing-tips, extensive streaking on head and neck, neat white tips on primaries. February 2011. Pelagic out of Lewes, DE. [Photo by Lukas Musher]
First cycle Herring Gull.  This individual is rather pale, but note relatively long, black bill, dark eye, indistinct streaking on breast/belly, shallow forehead, and other structural features same as above. March 2006, Platte River, NE. [Photo by Lukas Musher]
Feel free to post questions or comments.

By Luke Musher

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