All These Gulls Look Alike! August 2021

In 15 years of leading nature walks, I’ve heard the comment “All of these gulls look alike!” many times.

Here is a quote from Sibley Birds.

Gull Genus “Larus” has 16 species. Many are difficult to identify and some hybridize frequently. Transition from brownish juvenile plumage to gray-and-white adult plumage takes two to four years, and intermediate stages add to the identification challenges.

So what am I to think when I see this gull today at Col. Sam Smith Park?:

The first thing to look at is size. This gull was large – perhaps about 2 feet in length. Much larger than the 19 inch or so nearby Ring-billed Gull.

Ring-billed Gull

This immediately makes me think “Herring Gull.” First year Herring Gulls are mostly brownish as this one is.

My grandfather told me years ago to then see if the base of the bill is pinkish.

Herring Gull (1st year)

Definitely! This is a 1st year Herring Gull.

Herring Gull (1st year)
Herring Gull (1st year)
Herring Gull (1st year)
Herring Gull (1st year)
Herring Gull (1st year)
Herring Gull (1st year)

My grandfather had a great interest in gulls. If he saw a flock of hundreds standing on the ice or in shallow water, he would carefully inspect each one through his telescope.

MYSTERY BIRD

I will identify it at the end of the post.

Other birds:

Northern Cardinal (female)
Mallard (female)
Red-necked Grebes
Double-crested Cormorant (juvenile)
Double-crested Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorants
American Goldfinch (female)
Double-crested Cormorant
American Goldfinch (female)
Double-crested Cormorants
Double-crested Cormorant (parent and juvenile)
Red-winged Blackbird (female or juvenile)
Swan, Geese and Ducks
House Sparrow (male)
Mallard (female)
Rock Pigeon
Great Blue Heron
Double-crested Cormorant
Belted Kingfisher (male)
Double-crested Cormorant
Belted Kingfisher (male)
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Double-crested Cormorants
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Mallards
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Red-winged Blackbird (female or juvenile)
American Robin (juvenile)
Red-winged Blackbird (female or juvenile)
Mute Swans
Red-winged Blackbirds (female or juvenile)

and a butterfly:

Orange Sulphur

MYSTERY BIRD

The head-striping make this a juvenile Red-necked Grebe.

Red-necked Grebe (juvenile)

NATURE LYRICS

It’s too darn hot
It’s too darn hot
I’d like to fool with my baby tonight
Break every rule with my baby tonight
I’d like to fool with my baby tonight
Break every rule with my baby tonight
But pillow, you’ll be my baby tonight
‘Cause it’s too darn hot – Cole Porter (from Kiss Me Kate)

Miles Hearn

2 thoughts on “All These Gulls Look Alike! August 2021

  1. Lisa Volkov

    Yeah, I’m one of those people who thinks this way when it comes to Gulls, whether or not I say so out loud. Thanks for helping me along with my education in discerning the differences, here and on the walks!
    Beautiful pictures. Thanks, Miles!

    Reply

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