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Help with a few tricky-for-me gulls?


John Callender
 

I had a nice time walking the Carpinteria Beach this morning before it got too hot. Highlights were a Wandering Tattler on the rocks below Tar Pits Park and a nice assortment of gulls on and around the State Beach.

A few of the gulls were tricky for me to identify. One large gull was structured like a Western Gull, but had a lighter-than-expected mantle and a lot of smudging on the head and neck; I'm wondering about it being a Western x Glaucous-winged hybrid. Another was a juvenile bird that I'm thinking was probably a California Gull, but the smallish beak and relatively uniform upperparts make me wonder if it might be a Ring-billed Gull or Mew Gull.

I'd appreciate any feedback people are willing to offer. Thanks!

https://ebird.org/checklist/S72574944 - possible Western x Glaucous-winged Gull
https://ebird.org/checklist/S72574963 - juvenile California/Ring-billed/Mew Gull

John Callender
Carpinteria


John Callender
 

Here's a summary of what people have sent me privately about the two gulls pictured in my lists. I'm taking the liberty of quoting them here with their personally identifying information removed. I hope that's okay with everyone. Thank you very much to everyone who shared their thoughts with me.

I think I'll leave both birds as "gull sp." in eBird for now. There does seem to be fairly strong support for calling the smaller bird a juvenile California Gull. On the larger bird I've had some agreement with the Western x Glaucous-winged ID and but also some suggestions that it could be a Western x Herring, which I hadn't thought of but seems like a decent possibiity now that I look at the bird with that in mind.

Thanks again.

Respondent #1: #2 is a Mew--based on the shape of the head and bill. If someone who actually knows what they're talking about--unlike me--says differently, I'd be interested to hear.
 
Respondent #2: I'm curious about other people's opinion but I think with the sub-adult Western Gull is actually a Herring Gull. I think the small first winter bird is a Ring billed Gull.
 
Respondent #3: I think your bird is a Calif. Gull, the more expected gull here now.
 
Respondent #4: agreed on the GW hybrid.
 
not sure on the other bird without access to literature. I would lean Cal Gull at this point. 
 
Respondent #5: I am certain your gull is not a Mew gull. Juv mews have much cleaner and less patterned coverts and tertials. They also have smaller bills. Also, it's probably too early for a hatch year mew to be in southern California. I can see how the lighter plumage of this bird makes it seem ring-billed-ish, but I nonetheless believe it has to be a California gull. I am interested to hear what verdict comes when more experienced birders have chimed in.
 
The other one has to be an Olympic gull right? Albeit a weird one, with primary color far on the far WEGU end of the spectrum, but bill color and mantle shade heavily favoring GWGU. Even pure GWGU don't tend to have all black bills in their third year. Cool bird!
 
Respondent #6: I was thinking that your big gull on the first link was/could be a HerringXWestern and you second smaller juvenile type gull is a California Gull.

John Callender
Carpinteria


Dave Compton
 

Hi John and everyone. 

Just wanted to point out that Mew Gulls do not typically show up in these parts until the latter part of October. Yes, we've had some oversummering individuals in the past several years. But obviously the potential for summer occurrence does not apply to individuals hatched this breeding season. This is a good opportunity to remind people that a great starting point in understanding this sort of occurrence information on a local level is Paul Lehman's Birds of Santa County, California. Updates of this source are available at Jamie Chavez's website here:


Thanks,
Dave Compton
Santa Barbara

On Thu, Aug 20, 2020 at 10:17 AM John Callender <jbc@...> wrote:
Here's a summary of what people have sent me privately about the two gulls pictured in my lists. I'm taking the liberty of quoting them here with their personally identifying information removed. I hope that's okay with everyone. Thank you very much to everyone who shared their thoughts with me.

I think I'll leave both birds as "gull sp." in eBird for now. There does seem to be fairly strong support for calling the smaller bird a juvenile California Gull. On the larger bird I've had some agreement with the Western x Glaucous-winged ID and but also some suggestions that it could be a Western x Herring, which I hadn't thought of but seems like a decent possibiity now that I look at the bird with that in mind.

Thanks again.

Respondent #1: #2 is a Mew--based on the shape of the head and bill. If someone who actually knows what they're talking about--unlike me--says differently, I'd be interested to hear.
 
Respondent #2: I'm curious about other people's opinion but I think with the sub-adult Western Gull is actually a Herring Gull. I think the small first winter bird is a Ring billed Gull.
 
Respondent #3: I think your bird is a Calif. Gull, the more expected gull here now.
 
Respondent #4: agreed on the GW hybrid.
 
not sure on the other bird without access to literature. I would lean Cal Gull at this point. 
 
Respondent #5: I am certain your gull is not a Mew gull. Juv mews have much cleaner and less patterned coverts and tertials. They also have smaller bills. Also, it's probably too early for a hatch year mew to be in southern California. I can see how the lighter plumage of this bird makes it seem ring-billed-ish, but I nonetheless believe it has to be a California gull. I am interested to hear what verdict comes when more experienced birders have chimed in.
 
The other one has to be an Olympic gull right? Albeit a weird one, with primary color far on the far WEGU end of the spectrum, but bill color and mantle shade heavily favoring GWGU. Even pure GWGU don't tend to have all black bills in their third year. Cool bird!
 
Respondent #6: I was thinking that your big gull on the first link was/could be a HerringXWestern and you second smaller juvenile type gull is a California Gull.

John Callender
Carpinteria


Dave Compton
 

Joe Morlan has pointed out, also, that "Western x Herring" is not a known hybrid combination. So, I would scratch that off the list of possibilities here, as well.

Dave Compton
Santa Barbara

On Thu, Aug 20, 2020 at 1:31 PM Dave Compton via groups.io <davcompton60=gmail.com@groups.io> wrote:
Hi John and everyone. 

Just wanted to point out that Mew Gulls do not typically show up in these parts until the latter part of October. Yes, we've had some oversummering individuals in the past several years. But obviously the potential for summer occurrence does not apply to individuals hatched this breeding season. This is a good opportunity to remind people that a great starting point in understanding this sort of occurrence information on a local level is Paul Lehman's Birds of Santa County, California. Updates of this source are available at Jamie Chavez's website here:


Thanks,
Dave Compton
Santa Barbara

On Thu, Aug 20, 2020 at 10:17 AM John Callender <jbc@...> wrote:
Here's a summary of what people have sent me privately about the two gulls pictured in my lists. I'm taking the liberty of quoting them here with their personally identifying information removed. I hope that's okay with everyone. Thank you very much to everyone who shared their thoughts with me.

I think I'll leave both birds as "gull sp." in eBird for now. There does seem to be fairly strong support for calling the smaller bird a juvenile California Gull. On the larger bird I've had some agreement with the Western x Glaucous-winged ID and but also some suggestions that it could be a Western x Herring, which I hadn't thought of but seems like a decent possibiity now that I look at the bird with that in mind.

Thanks again.

Respondent #1: #2 is a Mew--based on the shape of the head and bill. If someone who actually knows what they're talking about--unlike me--says differently, I'd be interested to hear.
 
Respondent #2: I'm curious about other people's opinion but I think with the sub-adult Western Gull is actually a Herring Gull. I think the small first winter bird is a Ring billed Gull.
 
Respondent #3: I think your bird is a Calif. Gull, the more expected gull here now.
 
Respondent #4: agreed on the GW hybrid.
 
not sure on the other bird without access to literature. I would lean Cal Gull at this point. 
 
Respondent #5: I am certain your gull is not a Mew gull. Juv mews have much cleaner and less patterned coverts and tertials. They also have smaller bills. Also, it's probably too early for a hatch year mew to be in southern California. I can see how the lighter plumage of this bird makes it seem ring-billed-ish, but I nonetheless believe it has to be a California gull. I am interested to hear what verdict comes when more experienced birders have chimed in.
 
The other one has to be an Olympic gull right? Albeit a weird one, with primary color far on the far WEGU end of the spectrum, but bill color and mantle shade heavily favoring GWGU. Even pure GWGU don't tend to have all black bills in their third year. Cool bird!
 
Respondent #6: I was thinking that your big gull on the first link was/could be a HerringXWestern and you second smaller juvenile type gull is a California Gull.

John Callender
Carpinteria