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Common Gull


First Cycle


COMMON GULL (16-18";47-48") canus/heinei

BILL SHAPE: small and slim, smaller than Ring-billed; 2-3x eye diam; gon angle very small; culmen curve gentle, beginning 1/2 way out
HEAD SHAPE: small, dainty, and dove-like
WING EXTENSTION: long; 1.5-2x bill length
BILL COLOR: flesh or dull yellow (blue-gray possible) w/ slightly blurred black outer 1/3; slightly more black on lower mandible blue-gray or dull yellow w/ dark tip or subterm band dull or greenish-yellow; may show dark subterm band w/ brighter yellow tip
LEG COLOR: dull grayish-pink (blue-gray possible) blue-gray to dull flesh greenish-yellow
IRIS/ORB RING: dark dark brown, rarely yellow; orb ring red
HEAD: canus: covered w/ thin dark well-defined streaks or lines; dark crescent in front of eye; pale around bill; aurs streaked; nape and neck sides thickly spotted; henei: lightly streaked except for collar of spots at base of nape, appearing white at a distance streaked over entire head; aurs may appear solid; blotchy on nape and neck sides variable delicate spotting on crown, aurs, nape, and neck sides
UNDERPARTS: canus: white w/ blurry spotting on breast or breast sides; variable mottling down flanks; henei: nearly all white; both subspecies w/ few dark marks at vent sides white; some light smudging from nape may extend to breast sides white
black w/ thin pale crescents possible on tips black; may show tiny A-spots A-spots diminish in size; small A-spot on P9, just before P10; larger A-spots on P6-8
(in flight):
outer Ps blackish; inner Ps pale w/ dark subterm spots; P5-6 may show white tongue between dark subterm spot and g-b base P7-10 black; med to large mirror on P10, possible on P9; black to P5; small tongues possible on P5-7; black on upper P covs extensive black on P8-10; large mirrors on P9-10; small mirror possible on P8; thin black band possible on P5; small white tongues on P5-7
(in flight):
dark w/ pale fringe; underwing covs white w/ thin dark edges, appearing pale as adult; underwing covs largely white adult gray w/ broad white trailing edge
TERTIALS: dark g-b w/ broad pale edges, split by dark shaft at tip, forming broad pale chevron as adult adult gray w/ large white crescent, about 3/4-1x bill length
GREATER COVERTS: solid med g-b, fading to pale g-b by spring adult gray adult gray
LESSER & MED COVERTS: solid med g-b w/ pale fringe, creating a scaled look adult gray adult gray
SCAPULARS: adult gray; may be mixed w/ some brown as adult adult gray w/ small white crescent
BACK: as scapulars adult gray adult gray med-pale on canus, med on henei (w/ gradual cline between?)
RUMP: white; canus may have some V-marks near tail white white
TAIL: white w/ broad black band w/ pale fringe; white outermost webs; canus has some dark on inner webs that may be visible on outer retrices from above white 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.