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first cycle
Glaucous-
winged Gull
Fig 1) A very fresh bird, early in the winter. Note the messy covert pattern, bulky structure, short primary projection, and thick bill. November 8, 2007. Stinson Beach, Calfornia. Photo courtesy of Steve Hampton.


Fig 2) Note also the fairly muddy scapulars and back and the irregular, not checkered, pattern on the lesser and median coverts. Like Western and Yellow-footed, Glaucous-winged Gulls usually stand with some of the secondaries exposed, as in this bird. Thayer's and other gulls rarely show this, though it is simply a function of posture and is thus variable. Photo courtesy of Don DesJardin.

Fig 3) The large bulky body and smallish rounded head are classic marks of Glaucous-winged Gulls. December 10, 2011. Davis, California. Photo courtesy of Steve Hampton.

Fig 4) On most of these birds, note the nearly solid greater coverts and tertials and, of course, the folded primaries about the same color as the rest of the bird. The bill is typically large and described as "blob-ended", though some young birds have smaller bills. January, 1998. Santa Barbara, California. Photo courtesy of Don DesJardin.


Fig 5 and 6) This one has the classic large blob-ended bill. The spread wing and tail shot illustrates the rather uniform look. Note that the outer webs of the primaries are darker than the inner ones, as in Thayer's, but the contrast is minimal. Note also the solid tail. Thayer's, Herring, Glaucous, Iceland (and every large gull besides Western and Yellow-footed) will show at least some pale barring at the base of the outer retrices. Photo courtesy of Don DesJardin.

For comparison of upper and underwing surfaces in flight, see these illustrations.



Fig 7) The primaries on this bird are fading to white. February 12, 2012. Sausalito, California. Photo courtesy of Steve Hampton.

Fig 8) Only February and this pale guy is already getting faded and tattered. This is not unusual. He will be very white in a few months. February 12, 2012. Sausalito, California. Photo courtesy of Steve Hampton.

Fig 9) Note the boxy compact appearance because the wings barely extend beyond the tail. February 12, 2012. Sausalito, California. Photo courtesy of Steve Hampton.

Fig 10) Side by side with a Thayer's Gull. Besides the obvious structural differences, note the overall more washed-out coverts, while Thayer's retains a crisp juvenile pattern into February. February 25, 2011. Davis, California. Photo courtesy of Steve Hampton.


faded spring and summer Glaucous-winged Gulls


Fig 11) A typical "white" late first winter bird. This white plumage is not unusual. March 23, 2011. Clearlake, Calfornia. Photo courtesy of Steve Hampton.

Fig 12)

Fig 13)


Fig 14) A typical faded bird late in the season. Notice the fresh adult gray scapulars. The bill is still solid black, which is not unusual even into second winter. March 23, 2011. Clearlake, Calfornia. Photo courtesy of Steve Hampton.



Fig 15) This is a classic late season bird, as evidenced by the adult gray on the back. Glaucous Gulls should have a pale eye and lighter gray on the back. Also, the black on the bill comes in along the cutting edge more than usual for Glaucous. May 4, 1998, Santa Barbara, California. Photo courtesy of Don DesJardin.


Figs 16 and 17) This ratty looking guy is bound to raise eyebrows. It is very worn first cycle, heading into second cycle (and desperately in need of it). Note the large black bill with a bulbous tip, one of the most distinctive marks for this species, especially at older ages. The very worn primaries are about to be moulted. This general appearance with the dark and white bands on the wings is fairly typical for summer Glaucous-winged Gulls. September 4, 2000. Monterey Bay, California. Photo courtesy of John Sorensen.