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Herring Gull
(smithsonianus)


IMAGES:

First Cycle
Second Cycle
Third Cycle
Adult


DESCRIPTION:

HERRING GULL(23-27";55-57") smithsonianus

BILL SHAPE: straight w/ little gon angle; about 4-5x eye diam; curve to culmen at tip is moderate
HEAD SHAPE: long, sloped forehead w/ moderately flat crown, peaking far behind eye; heavy brow and may have glowering countenance
WING EXTENSION: about bill length
POSTURE/HABITS:
FIRST CYCLE SECOND CYCLE THIRD CYCLE ADULT
BILL COLOR: black, usually w/ flesh base to lower mand; may be all flesh w/ black tip by late winter flesh w/ square-cut black tip or subterm band pale yellow w/ large black irreg. subterm band pale yelow w/ brighter tip; often w/ dark inner mark or subterm ring next to orange-red gon. spot
LEG COLOR: pale dirty pink pink pink light to medium pink
IRIS/ORB RING: dark most are pale yellow; some may be dark as adult cream to pale yellow (dark is very rare); orb ring usually yellow, but orange or red is possible
HEAD: usually lighter and offset from underparts by mid-winter; covered w/ fine diffuse g-b streaks; aurs may be solid; thick streaks on nape sides fairly white w/ light streaks over crown and aurs; thicker on nape white w/ thin streaks over crown and aurs; thicker around nape thick blotchy streaks all over head and neck, coming across breast; aur edge palest; lower nape darkest; dark diagonal smudge in front of eye; streaks on nape and neck sides obvious through Mar
UNDERPARTS: belly fairly solid med-dark g-b; undt covs barred breast lightly splotched; belly variable; undt covs white or w/ faded barring scattered smudging across breast from nape; otherwise white white, but w/ head streaking across upper breast
PRIMARIES
(folded):
blackish; may have thin pale crescents in fresh plumage black black w/ a hint of A-spots black w/ A-spots large and slightly decreasing in size; A10 slightly smaller than eye; A7 larger than eye
PRIMARIES
(in flight):
usually most of P7-10 black (rarely up to P9 with pale inner webs), inner Ps pale w/ small terminal mark, forming obvious pale window outer Ps black, inner Ps nearly white from above and below; mirror on P10 possible large mirror on P10; may have small mirror on P9; black band on P5; mark on P4; thin white tongue on P5-7, sometimes to P8; gray area white from below
SECONDARIES
(in flight):
dark w/ pale fringe nearly black w/ pale fringe adult gray w/ thin white trailing edge, about 1/3 bill length
TERTIALS: dark g-b, nearly matching Ps, tiped w/ pale crescent (may be large and irreg in shape), sometimes edged with white notches solid black w/ extensive marbled tips or internal markings as adult adult gray w/ white crescent about 1/2 bill length
GREATER COVERTS: usually w/ large g-b spots, w/ small pale areas between them; on most birds the inner feathers and outer subterm areas more solid, forming a dark lower bar on standing bird (others are completely checkered) extensively marbled med g-b, appearing solid w/ fine spots as adult adult gray
LESSER & MED COVERTS: large g-b subterm anchor w/ pale fringe and interior spots, giving a checkered look med g-b w/ extensive internal pale markings, appearing marbled; usually w/ some adult gray ... adult gray
SCAPULARS: variable g-b subterm anchor w/ pale fringe and adult gray centers; juvs have dark holly leaf pattern with crisp white notches along edges adult gray w/ small white crescent ... adult gray w/ white crescent about 1/3 bill length
BACK: like scaps but w/ more white in the pattern, giving a paler look adult gray; may be mottled w/ g-b as adult adult gray is a cool, pale gray w/ bluish hue, like Ring-billed
RUMP: much whiter than back, but barred w/ dark white white white
TAIL: black w/ white barring at base of outer retrices and on outermost webs; pale fringe; rarely w/ extensive barring at bases of all retrices solid dark w/ pale or mottled bases to most retrices; pale fringe ... white

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