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Kelp Gull


First Cycle


KELP GULL (22-24"; 50-56") dominicanus

BILL SHAPE: rather thick and heavy; 4-5x eye diameter; mod. gon. angle; rather steep curve to culmen near tip
HEAD SHAPE: moderately rounded crown; lacks fierce brow of Herring
WING EXTENSION: 1-1.5x bill length
POSTURE/HABITS: slightly stocky; may appear heavier than Herring. PLUMAGE MAY BE ON AUSTRAL CYCLE.
BILL COLOR: black, may have pale tip; pale base by summer pale yellow or cream w/ irreg. dark sub-term band, thickest on lower mand; black may fade up along culmen pale yellow w/ little or no gon. spot; slight blue-gray base possible pale yellow w/ rounded red gon. spot, often w/ cream tip; sometimes pale olive, blue-gray w/ no gon. spot; bright yellow when breeding
LEG COLOR: dull pinkish-brown or gray w/ tinge of olive or yellow toward summer grayish-brown to olive or blue-gray dull yellow yellow-olive to olive-gray; bright mustard yellow when breeding
IRIS/ORB RING: dark brown to light brown; orb ring gray to yellow iris as adult, possibly w/ dark flecks; orb ring orange iris varies from pale cream to brown; orb ring orange to red
HEAD: quite pale headed; thin diffuse streaks over top of crown, upper nape, and aurs; lighter elsewhere, esp pale aur edge; blurred dark crescent from front of eye to under eye, mixing into aurs white w/ dark smudge before eye; thin dark post-ocular line; light thin streaking on crown, aurs, esp. on aur edge; thick dark streaks on nape and neck sides; white band between nape and back white w/ variable gray smudge before eye; light streaks on crown, nape, aur edge usually white and unmarked all year; a few may have faint streaking or spotting around nape
UNDERPARTS: pale throat; light streaks on breast; belly darker and more blotched; undt covs barred nape streaking continues across breast; belly mostly white w/ few streaks; undt covs barred white white
blackish, possibly w/ faint pale edge to tips blackish as adult but w/ smaller A-spots black w/ white A-spots, which diminish in size; A7 2x eye size; A10 is smaller than eye; worn down in summer
(in flight):
blackish; inner Ps show distinct pale subterm spots on inner webs blackish as adult, but w/o mirrors and w/ smaller A-spots black w/ large mirror on P10; 35% have small mirror on P9; P6-7 have slight pale tongues; similar from below
(in flight):
blackish w/ tiny pale fringe blackish w/ mottled pale fringe as adult, but trailing edge may be irregular adult gray above w/ broad white trailing edge, about 2/3 bill length
TERTIALS: dark g-b w/ tiny pale fringe dark g-b w/ extensive pale marbling and thin dark subterm band as adult, but white crescent may be speckled at bases adult gray w/ distinct white crescents, about 3/4 bill length
GREATER COVERTS: fairly solid med g-b w/ pale fringe and pale bars or spots on inner feathers fairly solid med g-b w/ pale tips and faint internal mottling, giving uniform to muddy look as adult adult gray
LESSER & MED COVERTS: crisp dark pointed centers w/ pale tips and sides, giving a dark checkered look med g-b w/ blurry pale tips, giving a muddy look; med covs often adult gray, forming dark band as adult (but underwing lining dirty or scaly) adult gray
SCAPULARS: like L&M covs, but w/ reduced pale edges, giving more of a scaled look adult gray w/ one white crescent, about 1/3 bill length as adult, but tinged browner when worn adult gray w/ obvious white crescent, about 1/2 bill length
BACK: solid dark brown w/ negligable pale fringe, giving muddy or scaled look adult gray, but may be muddied w/ brown fringes as adult adult gray is dull black, brownish tinge when worn
RUMP: white w/ scattered irreg. bars white w/ variable mottling, often faint white white
TAIL: brownish-black w/ pale barred outer webs, variable pale barring at bases or outer retrices (rarely extensive); tiny pale fringe at tips highly variable black area fading into white bases, esp. on outer retrices; pale fringe white w/ variable dark streaks beside shafts of central retrices; some have incomplete blotchy subterm band white

The was table created by Steve Hampton and is intended to futher our knowledge of gull identification. Please email me at if you have any suggestions for updating or improving this table. Thanks.