Monday afternoon, June 19, 2017 Herring Gulls

Seward, Alaska

While beach fishers caught and cleaned reds and silvers, gulls squabbled over the guts or possibilities thereof. I recognized the default GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS, but some bleached out birds had me wondering. I sent photos to gull expert Steve Heinl who identified  them both as HERRING GULLS.

Here are his comments:

The bleached-out bird is a first cycle bird, one that has not completed its first primary molt, usually around a year old. The brown plumage that gulls attain in the first year tends to be much more prone to bleaching than later plumages. While paler than normal, the dark brown outer primaries, secondaries, and tail still contrast markedly with the rest of the plumage.

The older Herring Gull is not as severely bleached.

Note: a first cycle GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL would show more uniform coloration, particularly on the wings.

Thanks, Steve!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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