Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gull Watching: Lesser Black-backed Gull

Our next gull is a cool one, Lesser Black-backed Gull.  This dark-backed can be superficially similar to other dark-mantled gulls and even Herring Gull.  Let's look at some photos, including one interesting bird in Spain.
Four Gull Species.  Clockwise from left (ignore right-most cut-off gull): adult Herring Gull, adult Lesser Black-backed Gull (LBBG), adult Herring Gull, 2 Adult Herring Gull, first cycle Great Black-backed Gull, first cycle Glaucous Gull, Adult Herring Gull, second Cycle (?) Herring Gull.  For LBBG, note darker upperparts than adult Herring Gulls, lone white spot on P10 (outermost primary) only, long slender wings, white tail.  February 2011. Pelagic out of Lewes, DE. [Photo by Lukas Musher]
Adult Lesser Black-backed Gull (right) with first cycle Great Black-backed Gull (GBBG, left).  For LBBG, note relatively short yellow bill with red gonydeal spot, rounded head, slender neck (although this character is amplified by the fact that its neck is outstretched), yellow legs, heavy streaking on head and neck, especially around the eye, primaries and secondaries appear dark gray from underneath.  Compare heavy-set, stocky appearance to GBBG February 2011. Pelagic off of Lewes, DE. [Photo by Lukas Musher]
Molting adult Lesser Black-backed Gull.  Note, obvious molt occurring in primaries, primary coverts, rectrices, and greater coverts.  Shortened greater coverts expose white bases to secondaries giving the appearance of white patches where there usually are none.  Primary coverts are white, although this is unusual in American birds as far as I know (Steve Howell says it's common in Europe).  Also note many of the same features as above. September 2010.  Cadiz, Spain. [Photo by Lukas Musher]
Adult/third cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull (center), first cycle Great Black-backed Gull (left center), and Herring Gulls (most other gulls).  For LBBG note, mostly same features as above except for black splotch on bill.  February 2011. Pelagic off of Lewes, DE. [Photo by Lukas Musher]
Herring Gulls, adult Great Black-backed Gull (bottom left), and second cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull (indicated by arrow).  For LBBG note fairly clean white uppertail coverts contrasting with black tail, brown wings with dark gray back, same structural characters as above (e.g. slender, round headed, etc.). February 2011.  Pelagic off of Lewes, DE. [Photo by Lukas Musher]
Feel free to post with questions, comments or concerns.

By Luke Musher

No comments:

Post a Comment